What Is Neuralgia?

Nerve Pain Explained

The nerves of the lower body
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Neuralgia is nerve pain that may be caused by many different things, including nerve damage, nerve irritation, infection or other diseases. It is caused by irritation or damage to the a nerve and is a sharp and very intense pain that follows the path of the nerve.

Neuralgia is also sometimes called neuropathy, neuropathic pain or neurogenic pain. It is most common in older adults, but can affect people of all ages.

Symptoms of Neuralgia

How can you tell if the pain you are experiencing is neuralgia or some other type of pain? Neuralgia is typically more severe and has some distinct symptoms:

  • Increased sensitivity: The skin along the path of the damaged nerve will be very sensitive, and any touch or pressure, even gentle, is painful.
  • Sharp or stabbing pain: Pain will occur along the path or the damaged nerve and will be felt in the same location each time. It often comes and goes but can also be constant and burning and may feel more intense when you move that area of your body.
  • Weakness: Muscles supplied by the damaged nerve may feel very weak or become completely paralyzed.

Types of Neuralgia

Certain painful conditions are classified as neuralgia because they are caused by nerve damage and lead to nerve pain. You can also experience neuralgia as a side effect of surgery. The pain can range in severity based on the extent of nerve damage and what nerves are affected.

Some common types of neuralgia include:

Treatment of Neuralgia

Unfortunately, treating neuralgia is not an easy task and treatment will vary depending on the cause, location and severity of your pain.

The first step your doctor will likely take will be to identify the cause of the nerve problem and work to reverse of control it. He or she will also likely recommend pain medications to control your symptoms, including:

  • Antidepressant medications
  • Antiseizure medications
  • Over-the-counter pain medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Narcotic analgesics for short-term pain
  • Licodaine patch
  • Capsaicin or lidocaine medicated skin creams

Other treatment options may include anesthetic shots, nerve blocks, physical therapy, surgery, nerve ablation or complementary and alternative therapies. Talk to your doctor to discover the source of your pain and find out what treatments may work for you.

Take a look at these resources for more information about chronic pain:

5 Ways to Cope with Chronic Back Pain

5 Ways to Deal With Chronic Neuropathic Pain

"Innocent" Daily Habits That Affect Your Health

What Does Nerve Pain Feel Like?

What Is Chronic Pain?

What is Neuropathic Pain?

Which Pain Scale Is Best to Use?


U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2014, July 24). Neuralgia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 29, 2016

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