When should you see your doctor about nerve pain?


Nerve pain is often described as a sharp, shocking pain that follows the path of a nerve. If you suffer from nerve pain (also called neuropathic pain or neuralgia), it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid damage to the nerves in your brain and spinal cord, as well as the peripheral nerves located throughout the rest of the body. 

Although it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, some common causes of nerve pain include compression/trauma, diabetes, drug side effects, motor neuron diseases, infections, nutritional deficiencies and, occasionally, cancer. 

Neuralgia is usually more common in older people, but it can occur at any age. Many types of nerve damage cannot be cured, but some treatments can reduce its symptoms.

In addition to sharp pain, neuralgia symptoms may include:

  • Inability to sense chest pain, such as angina or heart attack
  • Too much or too little sweating
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Dry eyes and/or mouth
  • Constipation
  • Bladder/sexual dysfunction
  • Weakness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Twitching
  • Sensitivity
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Problems knowing the position of your feet

If you begin experiencing nerve pain, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider early in order to reduce the possibility of permanent damage. Your provider may prescribe medications to minimize nerve pain.

The more common treatments include: pain relievers, antidepressants and some anti-seizure drugs may help. Other alternative treatments that can help reduce nerve pain include:

  • Pain-relieving shots of anesthetics
  • Nerve blocks
  • Physical therapy
  • Procedures to reduce the feeling in the nerve
  • Surgery
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis and meditation

Most nerve pain is not life-threatening and is not a sign of a life-threatening disorder. Seeing your healthcare provider can minimize your pain, identify the underlying cause and reduce the likelihood of long-term nerve damage. Contact a primary care provider with Goshen Physicians for help dealing with your nerve pain.