Types of neuralgia

Neuralgia is a term used to describe the set of symptoms associated with nerve dysfunction. In terms of the spine, it means pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness caused by compression of a nerve root or irritation of the spinal cord.

Compression or irritation can occur either due to traumatic injury, or — more frequently — over time as part of the aging process.

Classification of the types of neuralgia

The term neuralgia covers a wide variety of pain and other symptoms that millions of Americans experience every day. There are many types of neuralgia, but they all share one common characteristic: some form of nerve dysfunction is present.

Here are a few examples of the different classifications of neuralgia, with brief descriptions of the associated symptoms and causes:

  • Occipital — pain and other symptoms that spread through the neck and head; caused by dysfunction of the occipital nerves, which run from the base of the neck to the scalp.
  • Postherpetic — chronic pain where a shingles infection once occurred; often develops in people older than 60 as a resurfacing of the virus that causes chickenpox.
  • Trigeminal — painful swelling and electric shock-like spasms on the face, especially around the eye; may be triggered by touch or by sounds as a result of trigeminal nerve dysfunction.
  • Glossopharyngeal — severe pain in the tongue, throat, ear and tonsils; occurs as a result of irritation of the ninth cranial nerve.
  • Sciatic — shooting pain in the lower back, buttocks, legs, feet and/or toes; occurs as a result of compression of the sciatic nerve, the longest and widest nerve in the body.

Treatment for neuralgia

Different types of neuralgia require different kinds of treatment, but in general, for neuralgia resulting from nerve compression in the spine, conservative methods of treatment can be effective. Conservative treatments include pain medication, exercise, epidural injections and others.

However, if your pain is not responding to conservative treatments after several months, you may be recommended to undergo spine surgery. As you research the spine surgery options available to you, be sure to review the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute over traditional open neck or back surgery. Some of the advantages of these procedures include a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication. After reviewing your MRI report or CT scan, we can determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.

When you’re ready to take the next step on your journey toward pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. We can help you find the treatment option you need to recapture your life from chronic neck or back pain.