Chronic neuropathic pain
- Chronic Pain
- Risk Factors
Chronic neuropathic pain, also called chronic nerve pain, is long-term, debilitating pain that lasts longer than three months and is caused by a nervous system disorder. Medical professionals refer to chronic pain as lasting longer than three months, and acute pain as less than three months.
Neuropathic pain is related to the central nervous system. Disorders of the nervous system can produce dull or intense pain at the location of the injury or infection, as well as sharp or shooting pain along the pathway of the affected nerve. When this kind of pain is produced by spinal nerve compression, the symptoms are considered “radicular.”
Classifications of chronic neuropathic pain
Neuropathic pain may not always have an obvious cause, but it is typically caused by the compression of the nerves near the spinal cord. This compression can result from traumatic injury, infection or a degenerative disease such as arthritis or a herniated disc.
Neuropathy is divided into two general classifications:
- Peripheral — Peripheral nerves are the nerves located in the spinal canal. These nerves are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to other areas of the body, such as the arms or legs. Spinal nerve compression produced by a degenerative condition, such as a herniated disc or bone spurs, falls under this category. Peripheral nerves are the reason why some of the symptoms of a bulging disc can be felt in the arms or legs as well as the spine.
- Central — this refers to damage to or dysfunction of the brain, the brain stem or the spinal cord. This can arise from a stroke, traumatic spinal cord injury or a congenital condition such as multiple sclerosis.
Treating chronic neuropathic pain
Treatment of chronic neuropathic pain generally begins with conservative methods. Conservative, nonsurgical treatments include pain medication, physical therapy and other noninvasive methods of pain relief.
Surgery is often only used when conservative treatments have proven ineffective after several months. At this point, spine surgery may be the best option to remove pressure from the pinched nerve and help relieve your pain.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to traditional open spine surgery with a lower risk of complication and shorter recovery time.^ To date, our procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain.