Neuropathic pain overview

Experiencing neuropathic pain can be debilitating with simple tasks seeming like mountainous chores. At Laser Spine Institute we know that the first step in finding relief is understanding your pain, which is why we are committed to compiling the most comprehensive resources to help you in understanding your neuropathic pain, as well as finding a suitable treatment. For any questions or concerns regarding your condition or our outpatient procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

Differences between neuropathic pain and nociceptive pain

Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nerve. This type of pain is generally chronic, persisting more than three months at a time. Neuropathic pain is often confused with nociceptor pain, which is generally acute pain caused by normal irritation of the nerve. This type of pain is the body’s natural response to irritation, and is healthy, while neuropathic pain is generally an indicator of severe damage to the nerve.

The symptoms associated with both neuropathic and nociceptive pain vary dependent on the level and severity of the compression or injury but generally include many different indicators. These differences include that neuropathic pain is generally caused by injury to a nerve or nerve root. An example of this type of pain is seen in the compression of the sciatic nerve.

When the sciatic nerve becomes compressed by disc material, bone spurs or arthritis of the spine, patients generally experience lasting pain. This type of pain is commonly recognized in that the signals are being sent through different areas of the body, rather than simply isolated at the area of the injury, or compression. The symptoms of this type of nerve pain include tingling, weakness, numbness and shooting pain.

Generally, patients experiencing neuropathic pain cannot target exactly where their pain is coming from. On the other hand, nociceptive pain is generally directly related to an instant irritation. An example of this would be a skinned knee, bumped elbow or burn. The pain is felt at the point of impact and sends an exact signal to the brain. This type of pain is generally localized and can be throbbing, sharp or aching.

Neuropathic pain in the spine

There are a variety of spine conditions that can lead to neuropathic pain. The most common causes of this type of pain are compression-related conditions. These include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Bulging discs
  • Bone spurs
  • Sciatica

Though these conditions are not necessarily symptomatic alone, when they cause nerve compression, neuropathic pain is likely to have a disabling impact on the patient’s overall quality of life.

Treatment options for neuropathic pain

In many cases, neuropathic pain can be treated over time with the use of conservative methods. These include low-impact exercises, pain medications, epidural steroid injections, chiropractic manipulation and stretching. However, in some cases, this pain is not adequately resolved after several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment, and surgery becomes a viable option.

Laser Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive procedures that treat a number of the underlying conditions that cause neuropathic pain. These procedures use small incisions and muscle-sparing techniques, allowing for a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ To find out if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to our team and ask for a free MRI review.*