Nociceptive vs. neuropathic pain

Anyone who has experienced chronic neck or back pain is certainly familiar with how it feels, but you might be less familiar with why it feels that way. The following information of the two types of chronic pain can help you have a better understanding of nociceptive vs. neuropathic pain. Gaining this knowledge can be helpful as you continue on the path to recovery.

What is nociceptive pain?

This type of pain refers to the stimulation of nerve cells as result of adjacent tissue damage and can be experienced when you stub your toe, cut your finger or experience any kind of damage to bodily tissue. It can be sharp or throbbing and it can occur anywhere on the body — inside or out. While it most often is acute, it can be chronic if it is related to arthritis or a similar condition. In most cases of acute nociceptive pain, the symptom responds well to pain-relief medication, anti-inflammatory drugs and other medicines.

What is neuropathic pain?

This type of pain is caused by a malfunctioning nervous system. Neuropathic pain can arise because of an injury, illness or disease such as cancer or diabetes. It is also common for degenerative spine conditions, such as a herniated disc, to cause neuropathic pain by compression or irritation of spinal nerves. Nerve root compression in the spine can produce chronic neuropathic symptoms which may include:

  • Shooting pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Localized pain at the site of the compression

Neuropathic pain often responds well to medications, hot and cold compression, physical therapy and other conservative methods designed to help manage symptoms. However, if the symptoms persist after several weeks or months, spine surgery might become an option.

Learn more

If you would like to learn more about nociceptive vs. neuropathic pain, especially as it relates to the neck or back, speak with your physician. If chronic neuropathic neck or back pain has proven unmanageable with conservative treatment after several weeks or months and you are asked to consider surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures treat these conditions without the lengthy recovery times^ of traditional open back surgery.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our caring and dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review.*