The Causes of Nerve Pain
What is the biggest cause of nerve pain?
Hi, I’m Dr. Bob Lahita, Chairman of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. I’m talking to you now about nerve pain.Nerve pain is a fairly common problem. It is also very debilitating and somewhat devastating. There are many reasons for the nerves to be tender. First of all, trauma, squishing the nerve or crushing a nerve is particularly excruciating and results sometimes in common pain. That’s trauma. The second thing is infection. One of the biggest causes of nerve pain is herpes. That is, shingles. Herpes can really be a major problem because the pain in the nerve can occur days and sometimes even weeks before the rash pops out. So, your doctor may not know that you have herpes zoster, which is the formal name for shingles.Now, there are other conditions that cause nerve pain, among them physical conditions like pinched nerves. They are called radiculopathies, and that’s because where the nerves exit the spine there are little radicles - those are the nerves - and they pass through what’s called foramina, these little, itty bitty holes. When the nerve goes through, and there’s tightening around the nerve, it really hurts, and that results in numbness, tingling and shooting, burning pain.Now, classically, I should tell you that nerve pain is almost always a burning, tearing sensation. Sometimes, it is almost intolerable and requires the aid of a physician.Now, some of the other causes of nerve pain, which are a little less common diabetes. Diabetes can cause a, what’s called a neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy is exactly that. It is diabetes induced pain and loss of feeling. So, your extremities can hurt at the beginning then become quite numb so that you really don’t know what’s happening to, say, your fingers or your toes. And, that’s the reason that your doctor, if you have diabetes, always checks your feet because an infection in a foot that has no sensation can result in total loss of the foot eventually.Some of the other causes are autoimmune, where antibodies or cells attack a nerve, and the nerve becomes exceedingly painful. Fortunately, those are very, very rare. But, nerve pain - the tearing, burning sensation - can be quite severe and is very serious, and you should seek medical help fairly quickly. For more information about this, go to About.com.