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Pain Management Health Center

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Unexplained Nerve Pain

Symptoms of Unexplained Nerve Pain continued...

Nerve pain in idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is usually in the feet and legs but can also be in the hands and arms. People describe their unexplained nerve pain in different ways:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pins-and-needles
  • Crawling
  • Electrical shocks

Simple touching can cause nerve pain, and pain may be constant even when there's no stimulation. Often, unexplained nerve pain is worst at night, interfering with sleep. This can compound the problem, because people need adequate sleep in order to cope with pain.

Seeking Medical Care for Unexplained Nerve Pain

Anyone who has nerve pain should get a full physical exam by a doctor. Get checked for diabetes, high cholesterol, and blood pressure. Tell your doctor about all medicines and dietary supplements you are taking. Get evaluated for recent viral illnesses and toxins to which you may have been exposed. Also, discuss your full family medical history with the doctor.

Medical therapies are available to treat unexplained nerve pain, and it's worthwhile to discuss them with your doctor. But while medications can help, they usually can't reduce more than half of the pain.

Home Remedies for Nerve Pain

Several self-care strategies can help you cope and live better with unexplained nerve pain.

  • Get moving. Regular exercise may expand blood vessels in the feet over time, nourishing damaged nerves back to health. Start with a daily walk and gradually build up pace and distance.
  • Step up foot care. If you have nerve pain in the feet, examine them daily, wear comfortable shoes, and see a podiatrist regularly.
  • Get some sleep. Getting a good night's sleep can be tricky if you have nerve pain. Increase the odds by limiting caffeine intake in the afternoon, keeping a consistent bedtime, and reserving the bedroom for sleep.
  • Explore the mind-body connection. Ask your doctor or a trusted friend for a referral to a reputable professional who provides guided imagery, meditation, biofeedback, or hypnosis.

If your nerve pain isn't responding to medications and self-care, it may be time to talk to a neuropathic pain specialist. Your primary care doctor will provide a referral, most likely to a neurologist. A neuropathic pain specialist may be familiar with the multiple "off-label" uses of drugs for nerve pain and be able to provide you with additional help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 21, 2014
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