Pain in a nerve pathway is quite sharp and shocking. As a result of stimulating the pain receptors, pain is triggered. But there are abnormal conditions when the nerve endings are irritated and damaged, resulting in neuralgia. The term is a combination of two words- ‘neuro’ that relates to nerves and ‘algesia’ implying pain sensitivity. For a person affected by neuralgia, the pain is more of a burning sensation, which can occur in any region. Generally, the face and neck are common regions. In certain cases, diseases like diabetes or multiple sclerosis or infections as shingles are common causes leading to this problem.
Types of neuralgia
Ideally, neuralgia can be classified into two types depending on the pain location:
Central: Where the condition begins in the brain or spinal cord, and
Peripheral: Where the origin is the peripheral nervous system, consisting of the nerves and ganglia.
Neuralgia treatment however, depends on the kind of pain one is experiencing. For a better idea, PNS neuralgia has certain subdivisions as the following:
Trigeminal neuralgia: If the pain is from the trigeminal nerve, there is acute pain felt as a shock or burning sensation or something pressing against the skin.
Atypical trigeminal neuralgia: Usually this pain is felt in the cheeks, jaws, eyes, temples or forehead and jaws as an electric shock sensation. Contrary to the typical one, this pain also extends across the scalp and neck.
Occipital neuralgia: Better known as Arnold’s neuralgia, here the pain sensation is confined to the neck, back of the head and behind the eyes.
Post-herpetic neuralgia: The pain is of a variable degree in this vase which can range from mild to even severe. Commonly called shingles, this condition is a result of herpes varicella virus that follows herpes zoster outbreak.
Glossopharyngeal neuralgia: This is a rare disorder where the pain occurs near the tonsil and its surrounding regions like the throat or the back of the tongue.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Options for Neuralgia treatment are quite a few in number. Some are enlisted as under:
Medications: Some common medicines that can be used to relieve the pain of this condition include:
Over the counter pain relievers (aspirin, ibuprofen)
Topical creams (capsaicin)
Nerve blocks: These are injections meant for particular nerves or nerve groups so that inflammation and pain is reduced significantly.
It is difficult to treat neuralgia, but now with the advancements of medicine, we can definitely help in improving the quality of life.