Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage to the nervous system, such as from diabetes and multiple sclerosis. This is different than nociceptive pain, which is what most people are familiar with. Nociceptive pain is pain that responds to situations, such as when you stub your toe or when you fall and scrape your knee. Nociceptive pain typically improves when the localized area heals. Not so with chronic neuropathic pain.
Having chronic neuropathic pain in the lower body can be debilitating and disabling, particularly when the pain is intractable. In medical terminology, intractable pain means it just doesn't stop, not even with pain medication. Fortunately, there are options for pain management and relief.
What causes chronic neuropathic pain?
Having pain anywhere in your body can be debilitating when it's chronic, especially when it's in your lower extremities and leaves you unable to walk or stand for any length of time due to pain. In addition to diabetes and multiple sclerosis, other medical conditions and injuries that can result in chronic neuropathic pain include stroke, shingles, cancer, and brain and spinal cord injuries. It's important to understand which type of pain you have in order for treatment to be effective.
What types of treatments are available?
Typically, treatment for chronic neuropathic pain includes pain medication. However, people with chronic pain are susceptible to developing opioid use disorders, so it's important to only take the medication that is prescribed. Alternatively, there are nerve blocks, neurosurgery, and neurostimulation treatments that have helped reduce pain levels to make them more manageable or, in some cases, go away completely.
What can be done if those treatments don't work?
Treatments aren't always effective for everyone. Because of this, medical teams are constantly researching and trying new ways to treat conditions such as chronic neuropathic pain. In fact, one new type of neurostimulation treatment is called dorsal root ganglia therapy, which is proving to have promising results. It was just recently that the dorsal root ganglia has been better understood which allowed medical teams to develop treatments for chronic neuropathic pain.
Dorsal root ganglia has been found to regulate signals that travel between the nerve fibers along the spinal cord and the brain. When the dorsal root ganglia is stimulated, the stimulation can disrupt the pain signals, which causes a reduction or disappearance in the pain that is felt. Dorsal root ganglia treatment is performed by a neurosurgeon. The treatment uses a generator that sends mild electrical pulses to insulated wires that are placed near your dorsal root ganglia.