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.

Medications for neuralgia

Different types of medications may be used to treat neuralgia including:

  • Analgesics, such as codeine, fentanyl (Duragesic, Fentora, Actiq), and oxycontin (OxyContin, Roxicodone)
  • Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin (Neurontin, Gabarone)
  • Antidepressants, particularly tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Antiviral medications (to reduce the recurrence of postherpetic neuralgia)
  • Local anesthetics or topical nerve blocks
  • Medications specifically to treat nerve pain, such as pregabalin (Lyrica)

Other treatments for neuralgia

Other treatment options for neuralgia may include:

  • Control of blood sugar (to prevent neuropathy in patients with diabetes)
  • Injection of local anesthetics
  • Injection of nerve blocks
  • Motor cortex stimulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery to block nerve sensations causing pain
  • Surgery to remove tumors or other obstructions on the nerve

Complementary treatments

Some complementary treatments may help some people better deal with neuralgia. These treatments, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. Complementary treatments are not meant to substitute for traditional medical care. Be sure to notify your doctor if you are consuming nutritional supplements or homeopathic (nonprescription) remedies as they may interact with the prescribed medical therapy.

Complementary treatments may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Nutritional dietary supplements, herbal remedies, tea beverages, and similar products
  • Yoga

What are the potential complications of neuralgia?

Because neuralgia can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Paralysis or inability to move a body part
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Permanent or chronic pain
  • Permanent physical disability
  • Side effects from medications, including addiction to painkillers
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection

References:

  1. Neuralgia. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002380/.
  2. Trigeminal neuralgia. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/brain/disorders/940.html.
  3. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.
  4. Tierney LM Jr., Saint S, Whooley MA (Eds.) Current Essentials of Medicine (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
INTRODUCTION

What is neuralgia?

Your nervous system consists of two anatomic 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 nerv... Read more about neuralgiaintroduction

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.

Common symptoms of neuralgia

The symptoms of neuralgia are diverse and can include the ... 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).

Neuralgia can stem from autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or Guillain-Barré syndrome, or from an infection with viruses such ... Read more about neuralgiacauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 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