Medication for neuralgia

Neuralgia is the medical term for nerve pain, commonly associated with nerve pain in the neck or back. Many times, a nerve near the spine becomes pinched when a part of the spine is damaged, whether from the natural wear and tear of the spine or from injury. If left untreated, this type of pain can make even the most common daily tasks, like sitting, walking and sleeping, a burden.

For many patients, physician-recommended pain medication can help reduce the symptoms of neuralgia significantly. Because each medication has different interactions, it is important to contact your physician before you begin any medication for pain relief, even if it’s over-the-counter medication. Based on the cause of your nerve pain and your medical history, your physician can recommend the right nonsurgical treatment for you to find pain relief.

Types of medication to relieve neuralgia pain

Depending on the cause of your neuralgia pain, your physician may prescribe a certain type of pain medication. For example, a strained or inflamed muscle that is pressing against a nerve in the spine may benefit from an anti-inflammatory medication, whereas other causes of nerve pain may respond better to muscle relaxants. Your physician can recommend the right medication after performing a physical exam (and sometimes imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan).

Some examples of medication for neuralgia include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) — NSAIDs are extremely effective in treating chronic pain and arthritis; however, long-term use is normally not recommended because of potential side effects.
  • Corticosteroid injections — An epidural injection can provide immediate pain relief, but these injections are also seen as a short-term solution.
  • Muscle relaxants — Relaxants may take pressure off the compressed nerve and allow the body time to heal on its own. Relaxants are particularly effective when minor injury is to blame for the neuralgia.
  • Mild analgesics — Acetaminophen is normally the first medication used to treat neuralgia because it is relatively mild and doesn’t have as many potential side effects.
  • Others — Antidepressants or anti-seizure medicine are occasionally recommended, among others.

Disclaimer

Medication for neuralgia can be an excellent complement to a treatment program, but it is extremely important to fully understand the risks for potential side effects, drug interactions and relative effectiveness of each medication before beginning use. Speak with your physician to learn more.