Treating Nerve Pain Caused by Cancer, HIV, and Other Conditions
Nerve pain can be a symptom of many different conditions, including cancer,
HIV, diabetes, and shingles. For some, nerve pain is frustrating. For many
others, nerve pain is devastating and life-changing.
Whether it feels like burning, pinpricks, or sudden shocks of electricity,
nerve pain can disrupt your life at home and at work. It can limit your ability
to get around. Over time, it can grind you down. Studies show that people with
nerve pain have higher rates of sleep problems, anxiety, and depression.
Not getting enough vitamin D in your system may be linked to chronic pain.
Over the past 10 years, several researchers have found an association between extremely low vitamin D levels and chronic, general pain that doesn’t respond to treatment.
Many Americans are running low on vitamin D. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 showed that vitamin D levels have plummeted among all U.S. ages, races, and ethnic groups over the past two decades.
But does not having enough vitamin...
When you have a serious medical condition such as cancer or HIV, dealing
with the additional misery of nerve pain can be especially hard. But there is
good news. While nerve pain can't always be cured, it can be treated -- and
there are a lot of good options available.
If you're struggling with nerve pain caused by diabetes, cancer, HIV or
another condition, here are some answers.
What Causes Nerve Pain?
Countless nerves in the body convey sensations to the brain, including pain.
While we might not like pain much, it does have an important function: it
prevents injury. When your foot begins to step on a nail, it's the pain
sensation that alerts your brain to the danger.
That's how it's supposed to work, at least. But in people with nerve pain,
that messaging system isn't working correctly. Your brain receives a pain
signal, and you feel the pain, but there's no actual cause. Now, it's just pain
without a purpose -- and because there's no cause, there's no immediate way to
What makes the nerves behave this way? Usually, it's damage from a physical
injury or disease.
Cancer and other tumors can cause nerve pain. As they grow, tumors
can press on the surrounding nerves. Cancers can also grow out of the nerves
themselves. Sometimes, treatments for cancer -- such as chemotherapy drugs --
can damage the nerves, leading to pain.
HIV can cause painful nerve damage. Nerve pain affects up to 40% of
people with HIV, and nerve pain in the hands and feet is often the first
symptom that appears. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs can also lead to
nerve damage that causes pain.
Diabetes is a common cause of nerve damage in the U.S. Over time,
high levels of glucose in the blood (blood sugar) can injure the nerves.
Shingles can be followed by a painful condition called postherpetic
neuralgia. This type of nerve pain can be particularly severe and sudden.
Physical injuries can result in nerves that are compressed, crushed,
These are only a few examples of diseases and conditions that can cause
nerve damage and nerve pain. Others include repetitive stress, vitamin
deficiencies, hormone imbalances, heart disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis,
Guillain-Barre syndrome, Lyme disease, alcoholism, and more. In some cases,
nerve pain develops for no apparent reason.