What is neuralgia?

Your nervous system consists of two parts. The central nervous system, made up of the brain and spinal cord, acts as the central processing station for nerve signals. The peripheral nervous system transmits sensory information between the muscles, tissues and nerves in the rest of the body to the brain. Neuralgia, or nerve pain, is pain that is felt anywhere along the path of a nerve.

Neuralgia often originates in the peripheral nervous system. It can produce burning, numbness, pins-and-needles sensations, muscle weakness or paralysis, and sensitivity. These symptoms may be caused by a local injury, in which the pain can be directly related to a trauma, or a systemic illness that affects your entire body. With referred pain, a more complex condition, the sensation of pain is felt in a different part of your body from where the injury or illness actually occurred. Referred pain is the most difficult to diagnose and treat.

The most common form of neuralgia is trigeminal neuralgia, a form of neuralgia that affects one of the cranial nerves belonging to the central nervous system. This condition produces extreme facial pain that can feel like burning or an electric shock. The pain is severe enough that daily activities such as chewing, eating, or tooth brushing can be agonizing.

Neuralgia can affect any body part, leading to impaired function due to pain or muscle weakness. It is most common in people over the age of 60 (Source: PubMed).

Neuralgia due to a malfunctioning of the autonomic nervous system (part of the peripheral nervous system) may accompany a disruption of actions such as breathing, swallowing, bladder control, or perspiration. Low blood pressure, dizziness or vertigo, or loss of consciousness may also occur.Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these symptoms as they can be life threatening.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of neuralgia?

Symptoms of neuralgia include burning, stabbing, pins-and-needles sensations, and electric shock-like sensations, but they can also include numbness or lack of feeling in the affected area. The pain may be so severe that touching or brushing alongside the area can produce discomfort.... Read more about neuralgiasymptoms

CAUSES

What causes neuralgia?

The causes of neuralgia are as diverse as the nervous system itself. A common origin for neuralgia is the peripheral nervous system, which transmits sensory signals from the rest of the body to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).... Read more about neuralgiacauses

TREATMENTS

How is neuralgia treated?

Treatment for neuralgia begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. The cause, duration and severity of your neuralgia will determine the appropriate treatment. The goals of therapy are to manage the pain and to treat the underlying condition, if possible. Therapies include medication, surgery, and injections of local anesthetics, as well as complementary treatments such as biofeedback, acupuncture and massage.... Read more about neuralgiatreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves