Neuralgia is intense shooting, stabbing or burning pain in the distribution of nerve pathways. Neuralgia is not an illness but a symptom of nerve injury, nerve irritation, infection or chronic disease condition. The leading cause of severe pain is irritated or damaged nerve or nerves. In Greek, neuralgia is neuron (nerve) + algos (pain). Some people may also use terms neuropathic pain, neuropathy or neurogenic pain instead of neuralgia to summarize their pain.
- Aging: Mostly older adults complaint of pain in nerves as compared to younger adults.
- Chronic diseases like diabetes mellites, porphyria or multiple sclerosis.
- Pressure on nerves due to ligaments, blood vessels, nearby bone or tumors.
- Trauma to the distribution of nerves after surgery.
- Chronic kidney disease.
- Medication for cancer or antibiotics to treat some infections.
- Chemical irritation
Symptoms of Neuralgia Include:
- Sudden intense pain like electric shocks, shooting or stabbing in nature in the path of distribution of nerves.
- Tingling and numbness
- Burning in the affected area
- Weakness and loss of control over muscles
- Atrophy of muscles with involuntary cramping and twitching.
- The episodes of pain may last from a few seconds to minutes or longer, while some people may even have no pain at all.
- The severity of pain depends on the affected nerve.
Types of Neuralgia:
Below are some common types of neuralgia:
Trigeminal nerve supplies muscles of the face, including cheeks and jaws. Trigeminal neuralgia is the most common type of neuralgia, usually affecting women of 50 years of age or above. It is also known as tic douloureux. Infections, inflammations, chronic disease conditions like multiple sclerosis or tumor involving the pathway of the trigeminal nerve are some of the causative factors. The pain usually affects one side of the face. In rare cases, a person experiences excruciating pain in both sides of the face.
At times, the pain alternates. The pain is so severe to affect daily routines and activities of one’s life. The bouts of pain are so intense that it makes a simple task like talking, smiling, chewing, toothbrushing and shaving very difficult. The sharp agonizing events of pain usually begins unexpectedly and are challenging to endure. Nerves become so sensitive and edgy that even a simple head movement, gentle breeze on face or vibrations of moving car can aggravate the pain. A burning and stinging sensation are felt even after the most severe attack subside.
It is the paroxysmal stabbing and throbbing pain felt in the occipital area of the head above the nape of the neck. The pain sometimes travels to the forehead. Occipital neuralgia is caused by irritation of lesser or greater occipital nerves, i.e. the main nerves running to the back of the head. An inflammation, viral infection, trauma to the neck, bad posture are also suspected to be the reason for occipital neuralgia.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy:
Diabetes mellites is the most common cause of neuropathy worldwide, Diabetic neuropathy. It is the damage of nerves caused by diabetes. Peripheral nerves of hands, arms, feet, and legs are most commonly affected. The symptoms include pain, tingling, and numbness of the affected part.
The most commonly known infectious condition that causes post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is shingles. Shingles are caused by reactivation of chickenpox virus, i.e. herpes zoster virus. The pain in PHN is confined to a particular area of skin and persists for 90 days after the outbreak of the herpes zoster virus.
It an infectious disease with pain in nerves and expanding redness in the skin after the tick bite caused by bacterium ‘borrelia’.
Other infections to cause pain in nerves are HIV/AIDS and syphilis.
Diagnosis of neuralgia:
- Neurological examination to determine the specified area of pain.
- A blood test to rule out infection
- Dental examination to check for carries and abscesses that may cause pain by irritating the nerves.
- X-ray to rule out compressed nerves by bones or tumors.
Homeopathic Medicine for Neuralgia:
Magnesium phosphoricum: This homeopathic medicine is best suited to painful irritated nerves. Sharp shooting pain in neuralgia. An effective alternative method to treat neuralgia without any side effects and damage to the nerve. It can also be used to treatspasms and cramping in muscles. Most importantly, this medicine is safe to use in trigeminal and occipital neuralgia.