Neuralgia is a broad term used to describe pain and other symptoms related to nerve dysfunction. Neurological pain can affect any part of the body and often is the result of a minor injury, such as a strained muscle or sprained ligament. Another major cause of neuralgia is nerve compression or irritation associated with a degenerative spine condition. The anatomical components of the spine – vertebrae, intervertebral discs, facet joints, ligaments, etc. – can begin to break down under years of wear and tear. When this happens, space is reduced for the spinal cord and nerve roots. Compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots can produce localized pain at the site of the impingement, pain that travels the length of the affected nerve, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness – all of which are forms of neuralgia.
Treatment for Neuralgia
Because the term neuralgia is used to describe such a wide variety of neurological symptoms, treatment options vary greatly. Further complicating the matter is the fact that some forms of neuralgia are extremely difficult to diagnose. Treatment for trigeminal neuralgia (chronic facial pain) naturally is different from treatment for postherpetic neuralgia (shingles), and both of these are dealt with differently than occipital neuralgia (chronic sharp pain in the upper neck, back of the head, and behind the ears). In general, though, spinal neuralgia – pain and other symptoms that originate with nerve dysfunction within the spine – can be treated using conservative methods such as:
- Pain medication
- Epidural steroid injections
- Stretching and other exercise
- Physical therapy
- Alternative treatments such as chiropractic therapy and acupuncture
- Heat and cold applications
Minimally Invasive Alternative
More often than not, conservative treatment is enough to manage neuralgia symptoms. However, if chronic symptoms continue to be debilitating after several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our orthopedic specialists perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures using endoscopic technology to treat the source of neuralgia.