Neuropathic pain is determined as 'pain caused by a lesion or disease of the somatosensory nervous system’. It is an interwoven condition, providing many symptoms and diseases within its title, but often without definitive treatment or even understanding.
The somatosensory nervous system covers the perception of touch, pressure, pain, temperature, position, movement, and vibration. It carries messages to and from the CNS (brain and spinal cord) and the muscles, joints, skin and the like.
Pain and sensory changes are affected, being put into a heightened state.
The onset of neuropathic pain can be seen from:
*metabolic disorders (e.g. peripheral diabetic neuropathy)
*autoimmune disorders affecting the central nervous system (e.g. multiple sclerosis)
* chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathies
*damage to the nervous system by trauma (e.g. spinal cord injury)
* inflammatory disorders
The hardest part of neuropathic pain for patients, is pain that is produced by a stimulus, that does not normally provoke pain (such as a piece of paper touching the skin), the increase in perception of pain, and a perception of paresthesia (the sensation of needle bites, tingling, itching, and reduced or loss of sensitivity).
Neuropathic pain can be spontaneous, appearing with no apparent reason or pain stimulus.
Despite living with the constant and unpredictable pain, the mental confusion and anguish, could be the hardest part of this chronic condition.
Some feel as if they are not believed. That they are making it up. That it's all in their head.
And in one way, it is all in their head.
The pain perception area in the brain has now being triggered into high alert.
It has gone into protective mode.
The brain tells the area, 'Watch out, this could be danger, remove yourself from here!", and this is actioned by creating a perception of pain.
Understanding the pain cycle is paramount for chronic pain sufferers. Education is an absolute must to achieve neuropathic pain management.
Sadly, neuropathic pain is a disorder that is difficult to treat, affecting quality of life for the sufferer and their families. The recommended first-line treatments by doctors are antidepressants and anti-epileptic drugs, together with opioids.
Naturopathy and Herbal medicine offers a more whole body approach to the treatment, including non-addictive pain management, assesses associated consequences of pain (such as poor sleep) and addresses the mental disruption that may occur.
Nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle changes are all individually developed to improve quality of life. Life can be improved, why not see what naturopathy can do to change the way you live with neuropathic pain.