What Is Nerve Pain (and How Does It Differ From Other Kinds of Pain?)

What Is Nerve Pain (and How Does It Differ From Other Kinds of Pain?)

“Can you describe your pain?” This will likely be one of the first questions your doctor asks if you complain of chronic pain. Unless there’s an obvious reason for pain, your doctor needs a lot of information to identify the underlying cause. This includes the location, type, intensity and frequency of pain. The doctor is partly trying to determine whether the pain is nociceptive or neuropathic (also called nerve pain), or possibly both.

“This can be tricky because all pain is experienced through the nerves,” says sports medicine specialist Dominic King, DO. Damage to bodily tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments or the capsules around joints, causes nociceptive pain. Nerve receptors adjacent to the damaged tissue, called nociceptors, transmit a pain signal to the brain. This type of pain tends to feel sharp, achy, dull or throbbing.

Understanding ‘electric pain’

If you’re experiencing something that feels more like burning, stabbing, or shooting pain ― especially if there also is numbness or tingling ― it’s likely to be neuropathic pain. This means there is direct damage or irritation to a nerve. “It can cause a lightning strike type of electric pain,” says Dr. King.

Nerve pain can arise from a variety of causes, including diabetes, infections (such as shingles), multiple sclerosis, the effects of chemotherapy or trauma. When it comes to orthopeadic issues, nerve pain often stems from a nerve being pinched by nearby bones, ligaments and other structures.

For example, a herniated disk in the spine or a narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) can press on a nerve as it leaves the spinal canal. This can cause pain along the path of the nerve. When nerves that originate in the lower spine are affected, symptoms might be felt in the buttocks or down a leg. If the compressed nerve is in the upper spine, the pain and other symptoms can shoot down the arm. Numbness or tingling may also occur because the brain is not receiving a consistent signal due to the compression.

Another common cause of nerve pain is carpal tunnel syndrome. A nerve and several tendons travel through a passageway in the wrist (the carpal tunnel) to the hand. Inflammation in the tunnel can press on the nerve, causing numbness and tingling in the thumb and fingers.

How is the cause of nerve pain found?

“There are so many orthopaedic conditions that overlap between pain stemming from problems with tendons, muscles, joints and nerves that you need a very discerning physician to do a good physical exam to figure out the cause,” says Dr. King. “I make my determination based on when the patient experiences pain, where the pain is located and what the pain feels like.”

Pain related to joints, such as from arthritis, will feel more like stiffness when going from sitting to standing. With tendon pain, it will feel sore when you push on the affected area. “Nerve pain is more of a burning, fiery pain,” says Dr. King. And it tends to come and go.

“Nerve pain typically gets worse with more and more use and can be associated with numbness,” says Dr. King.

Ultimately, getting the right treatment depends on getting the right diagnosis. For many bone and joint conditions, nondrug treatment will be tried first. Sometimes pain medication is needed. However, neuropathic pain does not respond to drugs commonly used for nociceptive pain, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.


Article Provided By: clevelandclinic


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If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com




2 thoughts on “What Is Nerve Pain (and How Does It Differ From Other Kinds of Pain?)

  1. Before my brain aneurysm I worked 2 jobs up until 2013. My past job was administration mailroom clerk. I was denied unemployment because they claimed my job would have been available for me after recovery. I’m still my able to work right now. I’m working on fixing this broken body. I had a brain aneurysm bleeding in the brain a year ago 7/15/2020. I have complications of burning sensations starting on my lower left calf, left thigh, lower back & my left side. I have left shoulder & left elbow shooting pains/ left fingers that stiffen and don’t bend until I use my other hand to bend then. But I have gotten a shot in my thumb joint to stop the stiff finger issue from a sport medical doctor. I have throbbing headaches left temple / right temple/ both eye socket/ back of my neck and blood shot eyes. These problems are daily except the blood shot eyes. My neurologist is not helpful. I have seen 3 doctors since my family doctor who has been there for me since day one. God bless him because he had a stroke in April 2021.🙏🏽 My 2nd doctor was okay but not so thorough. My current doctor wow he is amazing. He took notes and asked questions about each answer I gave him. He was also impressed about my healing process like walking normal and great speech. I have short term memory. I can read well but not concentrate about what I read. I learned to walk with headaches but I am short with breathing and I get dizzy after so many steps. I hurt when sitting under my left thigh, left side and lower back. The pain feels like a throbbing aching burning sensation. I want my normal life back. If you were Jesus I would make this my request. Which I have requested in Church often and my daily prayers. Can you recommend me how to super charge my body back to normal? Please!

    1. Our non-invasive treatment helps relieve nerve pain and symptoms. Have you looked for a Calmare therapy practice near you to discuss if this is an option for you? We would be happy to speak with you further if you feel we are a location you can travel to. You may contact us through our website/email at Carolinpainscrambler.com

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