Chronic pain affects as many as 65% of Americans, according to research published in the journal Pain Medicine. Chronic pain is an umbrella term for many types of pain lasting longer than three months. Nerve pain is a type of chronic pain, and experts estimate that about 10% of Americans struggle with this type of pain.
Current research reveals that depression and chronic pain are often seen side-by-side. Chronic pain can exacerbate depression and vice versa. If you’re stuck in this cycle, we at TMS Treatment Center can help you get the relief you need. Our team includes board-certified psychiatrist Jacob Bishop, MD, and board-certified neuropsychologist Peter Gager, PhD.
In the meantime, continue reading to discover why you shouldn’t let neuropathic pain go untreated.
What is neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain, sometimes called nerve pain, is pain caused by damage to nerves. The pain can come or go, or it can be constant. Neuropathic pain can be caused by many conditions including:
- Physical injury to the nerve (such as being in an accident)
- Compression on the nerves from arthritis
- Herniated discs
- Side effects of chemotherapy
Sometimes it’s not immediately clear what’s causing neuropathic pain.
Symptoms of neuropathy
Nerves send messages (via electrical impulses) to the brain. Nerves run from the brain to all parts of the body. Depending on where a nerve is damaged, you might feel pain anywhere along the nerve. This is why a pinched nerve in your neck can cause tingling sensations in your arm or hand.
Other symptoms include burning sensations, shooting pain, and even numbness.
Note: Damage to a nerve can sometimes lead to complex regional pain syndrome, a category of chronic pain that often affects just one limb — such as your hand, foot, or leg — after an injury. The pain is chronic and can be accompanied by swelling, changes in temperature, and sensitivity to touch.
Don’t brush off these symptoms
Untreated chronic pain can impact the quality of your life. In fact, untreated chronic pain can contribute to feelings of depression. According to the American Chronic Pain Foundation, about 65% of people with chronic pain also have depression.
Untreated pain can require all of your energy, leaving you with a limited bandwidth to focus on treating your depression. It’s a vicious cycle. Unmanaged chronic pain can also increase distractibility and lead to inability to focus at home and work.
Untreated nerve pain can also cause:
- Loss of ability to work if pain interferes with your ability to perform your job
- Further damage
- Feelings of frustration
We can’t emphasize enough that you should not ignore nerve pain. For example, if your foot is numb and you cut yourself, you may not be aware of the injury, putting you at risk for infection.
The good news is that there are several treatments available for neuropathic pain. Pain medication is a popular option, but it does have drawbacks. Depending on the type of medication used, it can be addicting. In addition to the potential addictive qualities of pain medicine, some medications can cause unpleasant side effects like drowsiness or stomach discomfort.
The good news is that there plenty of non-drug pain management options available for neuropathic pain.
Because there are so many different causes of nerve pain, it’s important to first determine if there is anything directly causing nerve pain. For example, managing underlying health conditions (such as a herniated disc) can also help improve your nerve health.
Questions? We’re here to help you
At TMS Treatment Center, we’re here to guide you with your next steps. If have questions or would like to discuss your treatment options, schedule an appointment by calling 859-533-9190. You can also request an appointment through our online booking system.