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Get The Facts

Neuropathic pain

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Neuropathic pain

Neuropathic pain is a chronic pain caused by disease or injury to the nervous system.

Neuropathic pain can be difficult to both diagnose and treat effectively. The cause is usually injury to the nerves themselves.   Typical symptoms include: 

  • abnormal sensations of burning, electric shock, pins and needles
  • experiencing pain from a light touch
  •  numbness, tingling or itching.

Causes of neuropathic pain

  • Trauma
  • Vitamin B12 or thiamine deficiency
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nerve compression or invasion by a tumour
  • Stroke
  • Certain medications
  • Infections such as shingles and HIV/AIDS
  • Diabetes. 


Diagnosing neuropathic pain

If your doctor suspects you have neuropathic pain, you will be asked to locate the pain and its severity. The doctor will then perform a physical examination and usually conduct testing on nerves in the affected area. You may need to have blood tests, nerve conduction studies (to measure how quickly your nerves can carry electrical signals) or an MRI scan. Sometimes a nerve biopsy is needed to examine a small portion of nerve fibers for any abnormalities however this is uncommon.



The symptoms of neuropathic pain can be mild to incapacitating and are often progressive. Treatments may include antidepressants, opioids, adjuvant drugs and anticonvulsants, however, only a few are approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

References and further information


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