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Causes and Treatment of a Pinched Nerve In The Back

Causes and treatment of a pinched nerve in the back

An injury, a herniated disc, or an underlying medical condition can cause a pinched nerve in the back — resulting in pain, numbness, or tingling sensations.

The symptoms of a pinched nerve in the back sometimes also affect surrounding areas.

Below, we investigate what a pinched nerve in the back is, what it may feel like, and when to see a doctor. We also explore the causes and treatments, as well as exercises that may help.

What is a pinched nerve?
A doctor reviews an x-ray showing a pinched nerve in the back.
The severity and cause of a pinched nerve in the back will determine the best treatment option.

Nerves in the spine can be compressed by surrounding bone or tissue. If this happens, a person has a pinched nerve in their back.

Nerves are responsible for sending signals to the brain. When a nerve is compressed, the pressure disrupts the signals, resulting in symptoms.

Symptoms

A pinched nerve often causes pain, numbness, and tingling. The location of these symptoms depends on that of the compressed nerve.

If a pinched nerve is at the top of the spine, symptoms may affect the neck or arms. Doctors call this issue cervical radiculopathy.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the upper back can include:

  • pain that starts in the neck and may travel down the arm
  • tingling sensations in the hand, or specifically the fingers
  • weakness in the arm, shoulder, or hand
  • numbness

Nerves in the lower back can also become compressed. Doctors refer to this as lumbar radiculopathy. This condition often manifests as sciatica.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back can include:

  • pain that radiates from the lower back to the legs or feet
  • numbness and tingling in the legs or feet
  • muscle spasms or weakness

If a person does not experience tingling or numbness, they may have a different type of back pain, such as muscle pain. This can occur due to wear and tear, sprains, or weakness.

Causes

An injury can damage tissues in the spine or cause them to become inflamed. In either case, it can put pressure on the nerves.

Other causes of a pinched nerve in the back can include:

  • A herniated disk: The disks between the vertebrae in the spine can become compressed and bulge, putting pressure on nearby nerves.
  • Spinal stenosis: This refers to a narrowing of the spinal column, which puts excess pressure on the nerves around the spinal cord.
  • Arthritis: This causes inflammation around joints and bones, which can increase pressure on nerves in the spine.
  • Bone spurs: A bone spur is an extra growth of bone, which can form on the spine and compress surrounding nerves, causing reoccurring episodes of pain.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This involves a vertebra in the lower spine dislodging and pinching nerves.
  • Infection: The vertebrae or disks of the spine can become infected, leading to inflammation and nerve pain.

Risk factors

Certain factors make developing back pain more likely. They include:

  • Aging: The disks between the vertebrae lose their ability to cushion with age, increasing a person’s risk of a pinched nerve. Spinal stenosis also becomes more likely with age.
  • Physical fitness: People who do little exercise or who have weaker abdominal muscles are more likely to develop back pain, possibly from an injury. The same is true for people who are generally inactive but then try intense physical exercise.
  • Overweight or obesity: Both place extra strain on the back, making back pain more likely.
  • Uneven posture: If the neck, shoulders, spinal column, or hips are out of alignment for prolonged periods, it can place pressure on nerves in the back.
Diagnosis

A doctor may be able to diagnose a pinched nerve with only a physical examination. They may also perform tests to check the person’s reflexes and muscle movement.

The doctor may ask the person to demonstrate their range of motion, such as by lifting a leg while keeping it straight. This can also indicate which movements trigger pain. All of this information can help with a diagnosis.

In some cases, the doctor may need further tests to determine the exact location and cause of a pinched nerve. Tests may include:

  • an X-ray, which can show structural problems, such as bone spurs
  • an MRI, which can show the condition of the spinal cord, disks, and nerves
  • a CT scan to examine the spinal structures
  • electromyography, which shows the electrical impulses of muscles

The right treatment depends on the severity and cause of a pinched nerve.

Some people can treat a pinched nerve in the back at home, while others require professional treatment. Recovery may take days or weeks.

Plenty of rest and gentle movements can help the body repair. Avoiding strenuous exercise and heavy lifting is key to supporting recovery and preventing further damage.

Over-the-counter pain relief medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

If a person has pain in the top of the spine, a cervical collar may help. This is a soft, padded support structure that wraps around the neck, helping the neck muscles rest and relieving nerve pressure caused by neck movement.

When pressure on a nerve is severe or chronic, a doctor may suggest oral or injected steroids to reduce swelling and pain, particularly any that radiates to the lower body.

Some people require surgery to correct the cause of pressure and stabilize the spine.

Exercises

People with numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain should contact a doctor before trying any exercises, as some can make pinched nerve symptoms worse.

Once the pain improves, certain exercises can support recovery, help restore movement, and prevent the issue from returning.

When looking for exercises to help with back pain, it is best to seek professional advice.

The following exercises may help. But — as always — if pain, numbness, or tingling worsen, stop the exercise right away.

To try an exercise for the neck and top of the spine:

  • Sit or stand upright, facing forward.
  • Place the fingers of one hand on your chin and gently push the head back, keeping the shoulders in place and the head facing forward.
  • A person should feel a stretch in the back of the neck and a contraction in the front of the neck.
  • Hold the position for 1–2 seconds, then gently release it.
  • Repeat 8–10 times, three to four times per day.
  • Continue for 2 weeks after the symptoms resolve to help prevent them from returning.

Lumbar rotation

To try an exercise for the lower back:

A woman does a lower back exercise, which may help a pinched nerve in the back.
  • Lie on the back, with the legs bent and the feet flat on the floor.
  • Gently rock the knees from side to side, allowing the back to rotate slightly.
  • Only move within a range that is pain-free.
  • Repeat this 10–15 times per session.

Back extensions

A woman completes a sciatica exercise, which may help a pinched nerve in the back.

To try an exercise for sciatica:

  • Lie flat facing downward.
  • Bend the elbows and rest the forearms flat on the floor.
  • Look straight down at the floor, keeping the neck straight.
  • Gently arch the back upward, keeping the hips and forearms pressed into the floor.
  • Keep the neck straight, without bending it back.
  • Hold the position for 5–10 seconds, remembering to breathe.
  • Gently lower the back to the floor.
  • Repeat the stretch 8–10 times per session.

Proper alignment of the head, neck, and spine is also important for reducing back pain; an uneven posture can put extra pressure on the nerves.

To put less strain on the neck and back, be sure to sit and stand with the shoulders back and the ears aligned with the shoulders.

When to see a doctor

Anyone with the following symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

  • sudden, severe, or continuous numbness, weakness, or paralysis in an arm or leg
  • loss of control of bladder or bowel function
  • loss of sensation in the genital or anal area
  • severe pain or weakness in the legs, making it difficult to walk or rise from sitting

These symptoms may indicate compression of the spinal cord, which is a medical emergency.

Also, see a doctor if back pain continues without improvement for a few weeks or symptoms are severe or getting worse.

Summary

Most people make a full recovery from a pinched nerve in the back.

Some find that symptoms resolve with home care. Getting plenty of rest, avoiding strenuous activity, and taking pain medication can help.

Certain gentle exercises may also help, but check with a doctor first, and stop any exercise that causes or worsens symptoms.

More severe or chronic pain may require steroid injections or surgery.

If a person experiences sudden paralysis, loss of bowel or bladder control, or severe weakness, they should receive emergency care.

 

Article Provided By: medicalnewstoday

Feature Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf 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

 

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The Lowdown on Living with Neuropathy

The Lowdown on Living with Neuropathy


May 7 to 13 is National Neuropathy Awareness Week. The week highlights the national effort to educate the public on neuropathy’s causes, treatments, and prevention strategies. If you or someone you care for is living with neuropathy, the week presents an excellent opportunity to learn more about this condition and help others.

What Is Neuropathy?

Approximately 20 million Americans are living with peripheral neuropathy. While the term “neuropathy” simply means “nerve damage,” peripheral neuropathy is the impairment of the nerves in the body’s outer extremities — such as the hands and feet. While the explanation for an individual’s neuropathy is sometimes unknown, a wide range of factors can cause it. Here are some causes of this chronic neurological disease.

  • Trauma from injury and repetitive stress is the most common cause, and medical treatments, like certain types of chemotherapy and surgeries, can damage nerves.
  • Nearly 70 percent of people with diabetes live with some level of neuropathy.
  • Inflammation from autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can destroy nerve fibers.
  • The majority of people on dialysis for kidney disease develop neuropathy because excess toxic chemicals accumulate and damage nerves.
  • Infections, both bacterial and viral, are a major cause of neuropathy.
  • Heavy drinking can cause irreversible nerve damage.

Diagnosing Neuropathy

Symptoms of neuropathy depend on the type of nerve damaged. Associated with muscle weakness, motor nerve damage symptoms include decreased reflexes, twitching, and cramping. Sensory nerve damage leads to loss of sensation and is a leading cause of falls among older adults. It also causes difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain. Common symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Tingling, burning, or numb sensations
  • Hypersensitive to touch
  • Stabbing or shooting pains
  • Muscle cramps and loss of muscle mass
  • Dizziness and balance issues
  • Weakness

To diagnose neuropathy, health care professionals begin with a physical and neurological exam, and gather your medical history. They may order any number of tests and screenings to expand their search or confirm suspicions. Tests might include skin and nerve biopsies and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Nerve conduction velocity tests — used to determine damage to large nerve fibers — and those that measure muscles’ electrical activity help pinpoint neuropathy’s physical effects.

Treating Neuropathy

The good news for those living with neuropathy is that it is sometimes reversible. Peripheral nerves do regenerate. Simply by addressing contributing causes such as underlying infections, exposure to toxins, or vitamin and hormonal deficiencies, neuropathy symptoms frequently resolve themselves.

In most cases, however, neuropathy is not curable, and the focus for treatment is managing symptoms. Assistive devices, pain management, and physical therapy make a tremendous difference for those living with neuropathy. Technologies — from specialized footwear to electrical nerve stimulation devices — offer hope for the future.

Preventing Neuropathy

Whether you have to quit smoking, control blood sugar levels, avoid alcohol, or implement aggressive self-care, you can likely manage symptoms and stall neuropathy’s progression. Some people even make changes to their routine to greatly reduce their risk of ever acquiring it. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding bad habits are major steps in that direction.

Help make National Neuropathy Awareness Week a success by becoming a part of the effort. Learn what you can and share your experiences. If you’re living with neuropathy or caring for someone who is, know that your voice matters.

 

Article Provided By: dignityhealth

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf 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

 

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Neuropathy and COVID-19, What You Should Know

 

COVID-19 has been dominating the news and has been a constant worry for people with preexisting conditions. If you’re one of these people and are living with neuropathy, the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with the best information available.

At US Neuropathy Centers, our team of experienced doctors is dedicated not only to treating your neuropathy but helping you safely manage and navigate your way through the COVID-19 crisis.

Neuropathy basics

To understand COVID-19’s effect on neuropathy, you need to understand the condition itself. Here’s some information we put together on the basics of neuropathy.

Your body is made up of many complex systems including your central nervous system. The nervous system consists of your brain, your spine, and a network of nerves called peripheral nerves.

These nerves extend into the other areas of your body, controlling movement and carrying information between your brain and muscles.

Neuropathy, often known as peripheral neuropathy because it affects the peripheral nerves outside your spine and brain, refers to weakened or damaged nerves. There are many reasons you may be experiencing peripheral neuropathy.

For example, chemotherapy treatment, diseases like HIV and shingles, some autoimmune diseases, and exposure to certain toxins can result in loss of sensation. But the most common cause of neuropathy is diabetes.

The nerve damage leaves you with numbness or tingling in your affected extremities. You may even completely lose sensation and reflexes. Managing these symptoms and monitoring your condition is especially important in the middle of the pandemic.

Neuropathy and COVID-19

While there’s no direct link between neuropathy and COVID-19, there are certain circumstances that put you at risk for contracting the virus and experiencing worsened symptoms. Here are a few things you should know about living with neuropathy during this pandemic:

Be aware of your condition

Neuropathy typically indicates the presence of an underlying condition. Diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and other infections are all causes of neuropathy and all reasons to be extra vigilant with COVID-19 spreading.

Because your immune system is compromised, you’re at a much higher risk of contracting the virus. We recommend that you observe social distancing guidelines and possibly quarantine yourself to prevent the risk of infection.

Know the risk

Because your extremities have lost most or all of their sensation, you might not be aware that you’ve injured yourself and developed an infection.

For example, if you have diabetic neuropathy, it’s now even more important that you control your blood sugar and constantly monitor your feet for signs of ulcers and infections.

If you suffer from neuropathy caused by an autoimmune disease and need regular blood infusions, be aware that most blood donors have not been tested for COVID-19 antibodies. If you’re aware of the risks related to your neuropathy, you can adjust and protect yourself.

Contracting COVID-19

If you do become infected with the virus, you’re not likely to experience any new damage to your cells, but you may have flare-ups of your neuropathic symptoms.

The flu-like effects of COVID-19 may exacerbate the tingling and numbness you normally feel. While this may be uncomfortable, it’s no need to panic. Follow your doctor’s care orders closely until the infection runs its course.

 

Article Provided By: usneuropathycenters
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf 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

 

 

 

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How do I Exercise with Neuropathy?

How do I Exercise with Neuropathy?

Water aerobics is an exercise performed in a pool.
Water aerobics is an exercise performed in a pool.

To exercise with neuropathy, or nerve damage, you should aim for a moderate workout schedule rather than overdoing it. It’s important to have regular exercise sessions though, because it may lessen the extent or intensity of neuropathy over time. In general, exercises that don’t put a lot of pressure on the skeleton, especially the feet, are good for people with neuropathy.

Exercising in the water puts little stress on the joints and bones, and may be recommended for those with neuropathy.
Exercising in the water puts little stress on the joints and bones, and may be recommended for those with neuropathy.

Running, jogging, hiking, walking and step aerobics may be too much when exercising with nerve damage. If you have moderate to severe neuropathy in the feet or legs, overdoing or even moderately doing these activities may cause foot ulcers or joint damage. If the feet or legs aren’t swollen, sore or have a “pins and needles” feeling, then a limited amount of these types of exercises may be able to be done.

Running, jogging, hiking, and walking may be too much when exercising with nerve damage.
Running, jogging, hiking, and walking may be too much when exercising with nerve damage.

Aqua aerobics in the shallow end of a swimming pool may be fine in moderation, as the water helps cushion the feet and joints. However, as there is still contact with the feet on the pool floor, deep water aerobics can offer even more cushioning exercises. Swimming is often an excellent physical activity for those who exercise with neuropathy. Since it involves whole body movement, swimming can provide overall toning as well as cardiovascular benefits when done at a brisk pace.

While regular exercise is especially important for diabetics with neuropathy, as it can help lower blood sugar, proper fitting shoes and checks of the feet after workouts is important. Yoga can be an extremely beneficial exercise with neuropathy, as it’s gentle on the body, but if it’s done in bare feet, diabetics must be sure to take caution in not getting any scrapes or even a tiny pebble on either foot. Something as minor as a scratch on the foot may go unnoticed by those with neuropathy, as their feet are typically numb. If untreated, a foot infection may become so severe that amputation is necessary.

Individuals suffering from neuropathy may not notice scratches on their feet.
Individuals suffering from neuropathy may not notice scratches on their feet.

If you begin the type of exercise that best suits your degree of neuropathy, you should aim for about 30 minutes three to five times a week, depending on your fitness level and physician’s recommendations. In addition to water exercises, cycling may be another activity that you find you can do with neuropathy. It’s important to begin any type of exercise with neuropathy slowly and build up your time spent on it gradually.

 

Article Provided By: thehealthboard

Olympic Photo by Alex Smith on Unsplash

 

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

 

 

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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

 

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SC

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

 

 

 

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Four Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain

Four Types of Sciatic Nerve Pain

By April Mayer
Last Updated On January 25th, 2021

 

Sciatica is a form of radiculopathy—a mild to severe pain caused by the compression or pinching of a spinal nerve root. Sciatica radiates pain down the legs and feet, away from the source, and is a sign of nerve irritation or inflammation. It causes an electric shock sensation and numbness in the legs and feet.

While “sciatica” is often used to describe a sharp pain in the lower back and legs, not all sciatic nerve pain is sciatica. While the symptoms are similar from case-to-case, minor details signal different causes, such as whether your pain begins in your back versus your legs. Knowing the root of the issue is vital to treating sciatic nerve pain, as certain diagnoses require different treatments.

We discuss the most common types of sciatic nerve pain and an overview of what sciatic nerve pain is, its potential causes and risk factors, and various treatment options to give you a stronger understanding of the issue.

Neurogenic

Neurogenic sciatica is when the sciatic nerve is compressed or pinched, leading to pressure along the spine. The symptoms generally include sharp, shooting pain down the legs and weakened legs and feet. While the issue is rooted in the spine, the pain is usually worse in your legs than in your back.

Along with physical pain, neurogenic sciatica causes abnormal neurological changes. Individuals may suffer from a loss of reflexes, sensory issues, muscle weakness, and paresthesia (“pins-and-needles”) due to improper nerve conduction.

Referred

Referred sciatica is not a true form of sciatica, but mirrors the pain and symptoms. Rather than being a spinal issue, referred sciatica is pain related to a muscle or joint problem. Referred pain is one of the main reasons why a diagnosis for sciatica is vital, as it may need further evaluation treatment beyond home remedies.

As opposed to shooting pains, people with referred sciatica may feel dull and achy and their pain may be worse in their back than in their legs. Referred pain also does not cause abnormal neurological changes, either, such as worsened reflexes, sensory issues, or tingling.

Alternating Sciatica

Sciatica typically only affects one leg as the sciatic nerve is only pinched on one side of the body. However, alternating sciatica affects both legs successively. It may be a result of degenerative issues in the sacroiliac joint, the joint connecting the spine to the hips, or sacroiliac arthritis.

Bilateral Sciatica

Bilateral sciatica is when both ends of the sciatic nerve are pinched. This results in pain and symptoms occurring in both legs and buttocks at once. It’s a rarer form of sciatica, and the pain in one leg can be worse than in the other. Bilateral sciatica may be the result of multiple herniated discs or disc degeneration.

Sources of Sciatic Pain

There are 33 individual bones in your spine known as vertebrae. Each vertebra is divided into regions and classified according to the number of vertebra per region. The vertebrae are then labeled by a number and letter based on their placement, such as C1 for the first vertebra in the cervical spine. There are five regions of the spine: cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine, sacrum, and coccyx.

The most common regions associated with sciatica are the lumbar spine and sacrum, and the source of your sciatic pain slightly alters your symptoms.

L4 Nerve Root

Irritation to the L4 nerve root causes pain to the hips, thighs, inner knees, calf, and foot. Thigh and hips muscles may feel weak, and calves numb. When sciatica is in the L4 level, a person may be unable to flex their foot or walk on their heels, and they may have a reduced knee-jerk reflex.

L5 Nerve Root

Individuals with sciatica from the L5 nerve root typically experience pain in the buttocks, outer, thigh, and leg, as well as difficulty flexing their ankle or lifting their big toe. Sciatica from the L5 level might also cause numbness, mainly on the top of the foot and between the big toe and second toe.

S1 Nerve Root

Sciatica from the S1 nerve root is also known as classic sciatica as it’s most commonly rooted in the sacrum. Sciatica from the S1 level specifically causes pain and weakness in the buttocks, back of the calf, and outside of the foot. Individuals with sciatica from the S1 level may have numbness or tingling in their third, fourth, and fifth toes, and have difficulty walking on their tiptoes or raising their heels off of the ground. Individuals may also find they have a weakened ankle-jerk reflex.

Duration of Sciatic Pain

Sciatica and sciatic pain are categorized based on how long the symptoms and pain have occurred. The duration of your pain may be a signifier for the necessary treatment options you need.

Acute Sciatica

Acute sciatica lasts between a few days to a few weeks. Typically, it does not require medical attention from a doctor, and home remedies are usually enough to treat the pain. However, acute sciatica can be severe during the brief period of time it is present.

Chronic Sciatica

Chronic sciatica is characterized by symptoms lasting longer than 12 weeks. It’s often less severe than acute pain, but it may not respond well to self-management nor does it pass on its own. Chronic sciatica may require surgical or non-surgical treatment to improve.

Common Causes of Sciatic Pain

Sciatic pain is a result of different conditions or diseases aggravating the sciatic nerve. Not all the conditions listed are guaranteed to cause sciatic pain, but sciatic pain is a frequent symptom.

Herniated or Bulging Discs

Herniated or bulging discs occur when the spongy discs between your spinal vertebrae are compressed and bulge out of place. They can occur at any age, but become more common as you grow older or if you have degenerative disc disease, a condition where the discs lose fluid and wear down. Herniated discs are most common in the lumbar spine and near the sciatic nerve, so they can cause sciatic pain.

Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are small bone growths appearing near joints and are increasingly common with age. Bone spurs are the result of joint damage and linked to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and degenerative joint disease. After an injury or damage has occurred, your body attempts to heal the area by growing extra bone.

Typically, bone spurs cause no symptoms at all, though depending on where they’ve developed, a growth can compress your sciatic nerve and lead to pain.

Spinal Stenosis

The spinal canal is the spinal cord’s pathway down the back. With spinal stenosis, the spinal canal becomes narrower, placing pressure on the spinal cord. There are two types of spinal stenosis: lumbar and cervical stenosis. Cervical spinal stenosis affects the neck, while lumbar spinal stenosis affects the lower back and may cause sciatica.

Lumbar spinal stenosis can be the result of arthritis, spinal degeneration with age, tumors, or cysts.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition where one vertebra in the spine slips over the one below it, particularly in the lumbar spine region. The condition is typically a result of disc degeneration, arthritis, certain cancers, and certain surgeries.

Stress fractures are another common cause of spondylolisthesis, especially in young people and athletes, though they can happen to anybody. Repeated stress to the vertebra,  injuries from motor vehicle accidents, or heavy lifting, can cause the vertebrae to fracture, leading to spondylolisthesis and sciatica.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder where the piriformis muscle (located where the femur and pelvis meet) compresses the sciatic nerve, resulting in spasms and pain in the buttocks and legs.

While the pain mimics sciatic pain, with tingling and numbness from the leg to the foot, it’s not sciatica since it’s not caused by spinal issues. Instead, it’s a referred pain beginning from the buttocks as opposed to the lower back.

Risk Factors

Sciatic Nerve Pain

Roughly 40 percent of people experience sciatica at some point in time, and while it’s most common for people 40 to 50 years old, it can happen at any age.

  • Pre-existing spinal condition(s): Conditions such as degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis, while they may not initially trigger sciatic pain, can eventually progress and cause sciatica.
  • Diabetes: As a diabetic, your body becomes more vulnerable to nerve damage, increasing the possibility of sciatic nerve damage and sciatica.
  • A sedentary lifestyle: Sitting for long periods of time, such as at work or school, can weaken your muscles and cause them to become stiff over time. A weak back and core puts pressure on your lumbar spine and leaves you at risk for sciatica.
  • Heavy lifting: Heavy lifting such as at work, at the gym, or when gardening, can strain your back and lead to lower back issues, especially if you have improper form. When lifting heavy objects, carry the brunt of the weight with your legs as opposed to your back.
  • Age: As you age, your spinal discs and tissues wear down, leaving you at risk for herniated discs. You also are more prone to physical health conditions, such as spinal stenosis or arthritis, resulting in sciatic pain.
  • Weight: If you are overweight or obese, the extra weight in your midsection puts pressure and stress on your spine, leading to back strains and sciatica.

How to Treat Sciatic Pain

In some instances, simple home remedies are enough to ease and treat mild-to-moderate sciatic pain. However, if your sciatic pain is chronic or severe, receiving medical attention is the best step to take for proper treatment. Nearly all treatments—with a doctor or otherwise—are nonsurgical.

Massage Therapy

Massages improve blood circulation, relax muscles, reduce muscle tightness, and release endorphins, all of which are natural pain-relievers and can ease irritation. You can self-massage at home or visit a massage therapist for treatment.

Topical Treatments

A simple way to reduce this pain is to use topical treatments such as analgesic (pain-relief) ointments or hot and cold therapies. They provide temporary relief for localized pain and can be used throughout the day as needed.

For hot and cold therapies, use ice packs (wrapped in a towel to prevent ice burns), heat pads, or hot towels for twenty-minute intervals. Hot and cold ointments are another simple treatment and can be used on the go if needed.

Exercise

Physical activity can strengthen your back and core muscles and relieve pressure on your lower spine. Stretching and light aerobic exercises increase your body’s flexibility and potentially alleviate symptoms. However, avoid strenuous or heavy exercises and be sure your form is correct at all times so as not to worsen your pain.

Medications

While medications don’t directly treat sciatica, they can relieve pain temporarily and make daily activities easier. You can use over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin, or your doctor might prescribe muscle relaxants, antidepressants, or higher doses of anti-inflammatory drugs. For more severe pain, your doctor may inject corticosteroids or epidural steroid injections in your lumbar spine to relieve inflammation for one to two months.

Chiropractic or Physical Therapy

Your doctor might refer you to a chiropractor or physical therapist for physical rehabilitation.

With a physical therapist, you learn techniques and exercises to strengthen your back and core, improve your posture, and how to avoid aggravating your sciatic nerve. Your physical therapist makes a home exercise routine for you to follow to reduce symptoms.

Chiropractors have an excellent understanding of the body’s musculoskeletal system and how to manipulate it to ease any pain. They complete different treatments to take the pressure off your sciatic nerve, including massage, hot and cold therapy, and spinal adjustments.

Surgery

It’s rare for sciatica patients to need surgery and is typically the final step if other nonsurgical treatment options have not shown improvement. If you have severe pain lasting beyond 6 to 12 weeks or you are debilitated by your pain, your doctor may suggest surgery.

The most common surgeries to treat sciatic pain are microdiscectomy, laminectomy, a spinal fusion, or disc replacement, and the surgery you are referred to is based on your diagnosis.

FAQs

When is sciatic pain a medical emergency?

Sciatic pain is rarely an emergency, but if your sciatic pain is paired with incontinence, fever, loss of appetite, worsening numbness and tingling, swollen legs or lower back, or it began after an accident, seek immediate medical care.

What causes sciatica to flare up?

Some potential triggers for sciatica flare-ups include:

  • Stress and anxiety: Sciatica can be exacerbated by anxious thoughts as, when stressed, the brain deprives the nerves of needed oxygen and can result in weakness and tingling in the legs.
  • Wallet sciatica: Wallet sciatica is a term used to describe sciatica aggravated by sitting on your wallet, keys, or cellphone. When an item is in your back pocket, it directly presses up against the sciatica nerve and causes a flare-up.
  • High heels: When wearing high heels, your center of gravity shifts and stretches your hamstring and sciatic nerve. Walking on your toes, as you do in heels, might also irritate your sciatica.
  • Poor posture: Having poor posture when sitting or standing puts stress on your lower back and spine, resulting in a flare-up.
  • Tight clothing: Some clothing may be just tight enough to press against your sciatic nerve and trigger your sciatica pain.

Why is sciatica so painful at night?

Sciatica pain can be aggravated when lying down, making it difficult to sleep and find a comfortable position. In some instances, sciatic pain can be severe to the point of waking you up at night. Adjusting your sleep position, as well as using a supportive mattress, can ease your pain.

Side sleeping may place pressure directly onto the nerve roots and tilt your hips out of alignment with your spine. It’s best to lay on your unaffected side and use a pillow between your knees to keep your spine aligned and prevent pain.

Lying on your back emphasizes the lumbar spine’s curve, potentially pinching the sciatic nerve’s roots and causing pain. Elevate your legs using a pillow under your knees or an adjustable base to reduce the pressure and relieve your symptoms.

Stomach sleeping can overextend your lower back and irritate your sciatica, so it’s best to try a different sleeping position. However, if it’s too difficult to switch positions, temporarily use a pillow under your hips to protect your back.

Can sciatica be caused by a bad mattress?

While it’s unlikely a bad mattress is the cause of your sciatica, your mattress can definitely worsen pain if it’s unsupportive. Older mattresses tend to be rather unsupportive and lumpy, but even new mattresses can aggravate your sciatica if they’re not suited for your sleeping position.

It’s best to use a high-quality mattress built for your sleeping position and body weight to keep your spine aligned and minimize your pain as much as possible.

Should I push through sciatic pain?

If you’re experiencing any sciatic pain while exercising or completing any daily activities, don’t ignore it. Instead, take a few minutes to rest and allow your pain to pass. However, if your sciatic pain makes it difficult to complete daily activities as normal, speak with your doctor for treatment options.

Conclusion

If you’re experiencing sciatic nerve pain, it’s best to get diagnosed and figure out what type of sciatic pain it truly is, as it can be a sign of a larger underlying condition. Although what you’re experiencing may feel like sciatica, it can be caused by an unrelated issue such as piriformis syndrome. In order to protect your body and prevent worsening the issue, always get a doctor’s opinion if you are unsure.

 

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

 

Article Provided By: amerisleep

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash
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What Is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome?

What Is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome?

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 16, 2020

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) is a disorder that causes lasting pain, usually in an arm or leg, and it shows up after an injury, stroke, or even heart attack. But the severity of pain is typically worse than the original injury itself. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes it, but they are able to treat many cases.The term reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome is actually not a name that doctors use anymore. It’s an older term used to describe one form of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). RSD is sometimes called Type I CRPS, and it’s caused by injury to tissue with no related nerve damage.

What Causes RSD?

Doctors think the pain caused by RSD comes from problems in your sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system controls blood flow movements that help regulate your heart rate and blood pressure.

When you get hurt, your sympathetic nervous system tells your blood vessels to get smaller so you don’t lose too much blood at your injury site. Later, it tells them to open back up so blood can get to damaged tissue and repair it.

When you have RSD, your sympathetic nervous system gets mixed signals. It turns on after an injury, but doesn’t turn back off. This causes a lot of pain and swelling at your injury site.Sometimes, you can get RSD even if you haven’t had an injury, although it’s not as common.

Symptoms

When you get RSD, your symptoms may show up slowly. You may have pain first, and then it may get worse over time. You may not realize your pain is abnormal at first.

The types of injuries that can cause RSD include:

  • Amputation
  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Fractures
  • Minor surgery
  • Needle sticks
  • Radiation therapy
  • Sprains

It’s most common to get RSD in your arm, shoulder, leg, or hip. Usually the pain spreads beyond your injury site. In some cases, symptoms can spread to other parts of your body, too.

  • Redness
  • Skin that’s warm to the touch around the injury
  • Swelling

The pain you get with RSD is usually constant and severe. Many people describe RSD pain as:

  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Cold
  • Deep
  • Throbbing

Your skin may also feel sensitive when you do things that don’t normally hurt it, like taking a shower. Or it might hurt just to wear your clothes.

Other symptoms of RSD include:

  • Changes in your hair or nail growth, or skin’s texture
  • Excess sweat in certain areas of your body
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Stiff joints
  • Trouble moving the injured area
  • White, mottled, red, or blue skin

Diagnosis

Often, doctors don’t know your pain is being caused by RSD until you’ve had it for some time. When pain doesn’t go away, or is more severe than it should be for your type of injury, it can be the first clue that it could be RSD.

Bone scan. This test can detect if any of your bones are wearing away at the ends or whether there are issues with regular blood flow.

MRI. Your doctor might order an MRI to look inside your body, specifically at your tissues, for noticeable changes.

Sweat test. This test can tell your doctor if you sweat more on one side of your body than the other.

Thermography test. This sympathetic nervous system test checks to see if the temperature or blood flow is different at your injury site than in other parts of your body.

X-rays. These are typically ordered if your syndrome is in later stages to look for mineral loss in your bones.

Treatment

Early detection is key in RSD treatment. The earlier you’re able to catch it, the better your treatment will work. Some cases of RSD don’t respond to treatment. RSD doesn’t have a cure, but it’s possible to recover from many of the symptoms.

  • Anesthetic creams like lidocaine
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs, called NSAIDs
  • Anti-seizure medications that may help treat pain
  • Nasal spray that treats bone loss
  • Nerve blocking injections
  • Over-the-counter options like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen for pain

Other ways to treat symptoms include:

  • Electrodes on your spinal cord that send small electric shocks to relieve pain
  • Physical therapy to help you move around more easily and take away pain
  • Psychotherapy that can teach you relaxation methods
  • Splints to help with hand pain

 

 

Article Provided By: webmd
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf 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

 

 

 

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Hyperalgesia: What you need to know

Hyperalgesia: What you need to know

Hyperalgesia is a condition where a person develops an increased sensitivity to pain. What may not hurt most people can cause significant pain in an individual with hyperalgesia.

Although there are many potential causes associated with hyperalgesia, the condition is thought to be the result of changes to nerve pathways, which cause a person’s nerves to have an overactive response to pain.

Medications are available to prevent a person’s symptoms from worsening.

Fast facts on hyperalgesia:

  • Hyperalgesia can be very difficult for a doctor to diagnose.
  • Different types of hyperalgesia exist, and doctors have a variety of theories regarding why people experience hyperalgesia.
  • Researchers are also studying a potential genetic link to hyperalgesia
  • The condition closely resembles both drug tolerance and drug withdrawals.
Causes
Hyperalgesia is an extreme reaction to painful stimuli.

There are several nerve or “pain” pathways in the body where signals can start to miscommunicate with each other, resulting in hyperalgesia.

Some scientists think that hyperalgesia occurs when chemicals known to reduce pain are disrupted.

Others propose that hyperalgesia happens when “crossed wires” in the nervous system prevent pain signals from transmitting accurately.

Nociceptive and neuropathic pain

Nociceptive and neuropathic are two different types of pain. Nociceptive pain is acute and it usually has a specific cause, such as an injury.

Neuropathic pain results from damage to the nervous system. It can happen even when there is no injury or outside stimulus.

Hyperalgesia is considered a form of neuropathic pain.

Types

Doctors usually divide hyperalgesia into primary and secondary categories. Both of these conditions are due to initial tissue trauma and inflammation.

Primary hyperalgesia

This type of hyperalgesia is when the increased pain occurs in the tissue where the injury took place. An example would be when a person has surgery on their elbow, and the pain starts to worsen over time instead of improving.

Secondary hyperalgesia

This type occurs when the pain seems to spread to non-injured tissue or tissues.

Other types of hyperalgesia

Another kind of hyperalgesia is opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). OIH occurs when a person experiences worsening or new pain as a result of taking opioids, such as morphine, hydrocodone, or fentanyl for pain relief.

Symptoms

The chief symptom of hyperalgesia is an increasingly extreme reaction to painful stimuli without any new injuries or worsening of a medical condition. An example would be a surgical incision that becomes more painful over time, yet the wound is not infected, and a person has not experienced any further injury.

Hyperalgesia is different from tolerance to medications although the two processes are similar.

If a person develops a tolerance to a particular drug, it usually means that their body has become accustomed to the presence of the drug at the current dosage, and the drug is no longer working properly. When a person has developed a tolerance to a drug, increasing the dosage will usually decrease a person’s pain.

Drug tolerance is different from hyperalgesia, where increasing pain medication will not reduce the amount of pain a person feels. Sometimes, increasing the pain medication makes the person’s pain worse.

Another similar medical condition is allodynia. This condition is where a person develops a significant pain response to non-painful stimuli. Even brushing against a person’s skin can cause pain.

In hyperalgesia, a person has experienced a painful stimulus, such as cancer pain or pain following surgery, but their response to the pain is greater than the expected level of pain.

How do doctors diagnose hyperalgesia?

doctor checking notes on a tablet
Diagnosing hyperalgesia may be difficult for a doctor.

Hyperalgesia can present difficulties for a doctor to treat because a person may have developed OIH.

To make a diagnosis, a doctor will take a medical history and review a person’s medication.

They may also ask them questions about the nature of their pain.

Some of the signs that could indicate hyperalgesia include:

  • Pain extends beyond the area where a person experienced an initial injury or previously felt pain. Examples could include headaches, neck pain, leg pain, or back pain.
  • Some people describe the pain as “diffuse” or spreading. Some may report all-over body pain and aches.
  • The quality or experience of the pain is different than it used to be. The pain may become sharp, aching, or stabbing where previously the person felt the pain differently.

Currently, there are no definitive diagnostic tests for hyperalgesia.

Article Provided By: medicalnewstoday

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf 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

 

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Does Neuropathy from Chemo Go Away?

Does Neuropathy from Chemo Go Away?

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a blanket term for pain and discomfort and other symptoms that result from damage to peripheral nerves, which are the nerves that extend away from the brain and spinal cord.

The peripheral nervous system carries signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body, and then returns nerve signals from the periphery to be received by the spinal cord and brain. Any problems along the way can affect the skin, muscles, and joints of your hands, feet, and other parts of the body.

Many things can cause neuropathy, including certain chemotherapy drugs. Damage to peripheral nerves by these drugs is called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, abbreviated as CIPN.

CIPN isn’t uncommon. Of people with cancer who are treated with chemotherapy, about 30 to 40 percent develop CIPN. It’s one of the reasons that some stop cancer treatment early.

What are the symptoms of CIPN?

CIPN generally affects both sides of your body the same way. Symptoms are likely to begin in your toes but can move to your feet, legs, hands, and arms. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Some of the more common symptoms are:

  • tingling or pins-and-needles sensation
  • sharp, stabbing pain
  • burning or shock-like sensations
  • loss of sensation or complete numbness
  • trouble with small motor skills such as writing, texting, and buttoning
  • gripping problems (dropping things)
  • clumsiness
  • weakness

You might also experience:

  • oversensitivity to touch
  • balance and coordination problems, which can lead to stumbling or falling when walking
  • differences in your sensitivity to temperature, making it harder to gauge heat and cold
  • reduced reflexes
  • swallowing difficulties
  • jaw pain
  • hearing loss
  • constipation
  • trouble urinating

Severe peripheral neuropathy can lead to serious health problems such as:

  • changes to blood pressure
  • changes to heart rate
  • breathing difficulties
  • injury due to falling
  • paralysis
  • organ failure
What causes CIPN?

Chemotherapy drugs are systemic treatments — that is, they affect your entire body. These powerful medications can take a toll, and some can damage your peripheral nervous system.

It’s hard to say exactly what causes CIPN since each chemotherapy drug is different, as is each person who receives treatment.

Some of the chemotherapy drugs associated with CIPN are:

  • nanoparticle albumin bound-paclitaxel (Abraxane)
  • bortezomib (Velcade)
  • cabazitaxel (Jevtana)
  • carboplatin (Paraplatin)
  • carfilzomib (Kyprolis)
  • cisplatin (Platinol)
  • docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • eribulin (Halaven)
  • etoposide (VP-16)
  • ixabepilone (Ixempra)
  • lenalidomide (Revlimid)
  • oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
  • paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • pomalidomide (Pomalyst)
  • thalidomide (Thalomid)
  • vinblastine (Velban)
  • vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar PFS)
  • vinorelbine (Navelbine)

Besides chemotherapy, peripheral neuropathy can be due to the cancer itself, such as when a tumor presses on a peripheral nerve.

Other cancer treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy can also lead to peripheral neuropathy. Even if you’re receiving chemotherapy, the neuropathy can be caused or aggravated by other conditions such as:

  • alcohol use disorder
  • autoimmune disorders
  • diabetes mellitus
  • HIV
  • infections that lead to nerve damage
  • poor peripheral blood circulation
  • shingles
  • spinal cord injury
  • vitamin B deficiency
How long does it last?

Symptoms can appear as soon as chemotherapy begins. Symptoms tend to get worse as the chemotherapy regimen progresses.

It’s a temporary problem for some, lasting only a few days or weeks.

For others, it can last for months or years and can even become a lifelong problem. This may be more likely if you have other medical conditions that cause neuropathy or take other prescription drugs that cause it.

How is CIPN treated?

Once your oncologist (a doctor who specializes in cancer treatment) determines that your peripheral neuropathy is caused by chemotherapy, they will monitor your treatment to see if symptoms are worsening. In the meantime, symptoms can be treated with:

  • steroids to reduce inflammation
  • topical numbing medicines
  • antiseizure medications, which can help relieve nerve pain
  • prescription-strength pain relievers such as narcotics (opioids)
  • antidepressants
  • electrical nerve stimulation
  • occupational and physical therapy

If symptoms continue, your doctor may decide to:

  • lower the dose of your chemotherapy drug
  • switch to a different chemotherapy drug
  • delay chemotherapy until symptoms improve
  • stop chemotherapy
Managing symptoms

It’s very important to work with your doctor to prevent neuropathy from getting worse. In addition, there are a few other things you can do, such as:

  • relaxation therapy, guided imagery, or breathing exercises
  • massage therapy
  • acupuncture
  • biofeedback

Pain, numbness, or strange sensations can make it difficult to work with your hands, so you should be extra careful with sharp objects. Wear gloves for yardwork or when working with tools.

If symptoms involve your feet or legs, walk slowly and carefully. Use handrails and grab bars when available and put no-slip mats in your shower or tub. Remove loose area rugs, electrical cords, and other tripping hazards in your home.

Wear shoes indoors and out to protect your feet. And if you have severe numbness in your feet, be sure to inspect them every day for cuts, injuries, and infection that you can’t feel.

Temperature sensitivity can also be a problem.

Make sure your water heater is set to a safe level, and check the temperature of the water before getting in the shower or bath.

Check the air temperature before going outside in winter. Even though you might not feel the cold, gloves and warm socks can help protect your feet and hands from frostbite.

If you find it helps to relieve your peripheral neuropathy symptoms, you can apply an ice pack on your hands or feet, but only for less than 10 minutes at a time with at least 10 minutes of breaktime between each repeat application.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Don’t wear tight clothes or shoes that interfere with circulation.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Take all your medications as directed.
  • Get plenty of rest while in treatment.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations for diet and exercise.
  • Keep your oncologist informed about new or worsening symptoms.

Currently, there’s no scientifically proven way to prevent neuropathy caused by chemotherapy. And there’s no way to know in advance who’ll develop it and who won’t.

Some research, such as this 2015 studyTrusted Source and this 2017 studyTrusted Source, suggests that taking glutathione, calcium, magnesium, or certain antidepressant or antiseizure drugs might help mitigate the risk for certain people. However, the research is limited, weak, or shows mixed results at best.

Before starting chemotherapy, tell your oncologist about other health conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, that could lead to peripheral neuropathy. This can help them choose the best chemotherapy drug for you.

Your oncologist may try to lessen the risk by prescribing lower doses of chemotherapy drugs over a longer period of time. If symptoms start, it may be appropriate to stop chemotherapy and restart when symptoms improve. It’s something that must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

While mild symptoms may resolve within a short time frame, more severe cases can linger for months or years. It can even become permanent. That’s why it’s so important to keep your oncologist informed about all your symptoms and side effects.

Addressing CIPN early may help ease symptoms and prevent it from getting worse.

Last medically reviewed on January 24, 2019

 

Article Provided By: healthline
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf 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

 

 

 

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Postherpetic Neuralgia

Postherpetic Neuralgia

 

Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful condition that affects your nerves and skin. It’s a complication of herpes zoster, commonly called shingles.

Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash caused by a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus.

People usually contract this virus in childhood or adolescence as chickenpox. The virus can remain dormant in the body’s nerve cells after childhood and reactivate decades later.

When the pain caused by shingles doesn’t go away after the rash and blisters clear up, the condition is called postherpetic neuralgia.

Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common shingles complication. It occurs when a shingles outbreak damages the nerves.

The damaged nerves can’t send messages from the skin to the brain, and the messages become confused. This results in chronic, severe pain that can last for months.

According to a 2017 review, about 20 percent of people who get shingles also develop postherpetic neuralgia. Additionally, this condition is more likely to occur in people over the age of 50.

What are the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia?

Shingles typically causes a painful, blistering rash. Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication that only occurs in people who have already had shingles.

Common signs and symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia include:

  • severe pain that continues for more than 1 to 3 months in the same place that the shingles occurred, even after the rash goes away
  • burning sensation on the skin, even from the slightest pressure
  • sensitivity to touch or temperature changes
What are the risk factors for postherpetic neuralgia?

Age is a major risk factor for getting both shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Risk begins to increase at age 50 and rises exponentially the older you get.

People who have acute pain and severe rash during shingles also have a higher risk for developing postherpetic neuralgia.

People with lowered immunity due to conditions like HIV or Hodgkin’s lymphoma have an increased risk for developing shingles. The risk of shingles is 20 to 100 greater in this group.

How is postherpetic neuralgia diagnosed and treated?

Most of the time, your doctor is able to make a diagnosis of postherpetic neuralgia based on how long you’ve experienced pain following shingles. Tests are unnecessary in confirming a diagnosis.

Treatment for postherpetic neuralgia aims to manage and reduce the pain until the condition goes away.

How can postherpetic neuralgia be prevented?

Two doses of a herpes zoster vaccine called Shingrix reduce the risk of shingles by more than 90 percentTrusted Source. The vaccine also protects against postherpetic neuralgia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source recommends healthy people ages 50 and up get the Shingrix vaccine.

Postherpetic neuralgia is treatable and preventable. Most cases disappear in 1 to 2 months. In rare cases, it can last longer than a year.

If you’re older than 50, it’s wise to get vaccinated against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.

If you do develop postherpetic neuralgia, you have many treatment options to manage the pain. Talk with your doctor to find the best treatment for you.

Article Provided By: healthline
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf 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

 

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