All pain is the result of the biochemical stimulation of nerve receptors – that is to say, all pain involves nerves. Therefore, the answer to finding nerve pain solutions relates to the nerve involved and the underlying cause of the pain. Finding a health professional such as a doctor or a chiropractor near you can help you pinpoint the sources of your pain and prescribe appropriate treatment methods.
Sensory nerves innervate the entire human body except for brain tissue. This means everything from the human body to the outer skin can perceive pain, except for the intracranial contents.
Pain management professionals have divided pain into four primary stages:
- Transduction – The peripheral nervous center has three significant pain receptors: pressure (pinching or blunt force), heat, and chemical.
- Transmission – Long neurons with the axon close to the spinal column and dendritic extensions from the peripheral receptors extending to the brainstem are responsible for conducting the painful stimulus.
- Modulation – Modulation can be identified most spectacularly by direct observation. An identifiable pain response identified in the laboratory is called stimulation-produced analgesia (SPA). Electrostimulation of a specific brain area produces the absence of pain in response to inflicted known painful stimuli in animal subjects.
- Perception – The thalamus and limbic (emotional and behavioral center) systems contribute to pain perception. The spinothalamic tract relays pain impulses to the thalamus; from there, the thalamus directs a reaction in the cerebral cortex.
Researchers have identified Substance P as a neuropeptide that acts as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator. This means that the P substance molecule has biochemical properties that allow it to interact with the biochemicals in the pain sequence of events.
Impulses are transmitted through unmyelinated nerves to synapses in the spinal cord. The peripheral nerve endings called “free C fibers” have nociceptors, receptors for pain, and thermoreceptors for temperature perception. When a stimulus affects a nerve, the vesicle contents get released into the synaptic cleft. At the presynaptic axon terminal junction are vesicles containing glutamate and substance P.
Glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and brain. Substance P changes the postsynaptic neurons to make them more sensitive to glutamate. The TAC1 gene codes substance P. However, due to minor mutations over time, the amount and efficacy of substance P are different for every person. Consequently, pain perception is different in some people.
Ways to Deal with Nerve Pain
Common approaches to nerve pain include:
If physical activity or lifting generates nerve pain, the first consideration is rest. Once you have taken care of that necessity, avoid performing the action that initiated the original nerve irritation.
The ice vs. heat debate has continued for decades. Ice is helpful in acute injury to constrict blood vessels and limit swelling. However, it also acts topically to subvert peripheral nervous signals. As a result, many people report improvement in nerve pain with ice applications.
Heat relaxes muscles and also affects peripheral nerve transmission as well as peripheral nerve transmission. Muscle tensing often accompanies neuritis (painful nerve). Nonetheless, most people report alternating ice and heat is superior to either alone. Despite this, be careful of prolonged exposure to either hot or cold or extreme heat.
Topical Lidocaine 5%
Available in both topical cream and as a 12-hour patch, topical lidocaine interacts with peripheral nerves in the same way a dentist can work on you without pain.
Both acetaminophen (Paracetamol, Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (Motrin, Advil, Alleive) work for mild to moderate nerve pain. The nonsteroidal option also provides anti-inflammatory action that acetaminophen does not. The anti-inflammatories, however, can cause stomach upset and should be avoided in blood thinners.
Nerve pain is often a symptom of nutrient deficiency. Nutrients can be easily supplemented through organic supplements such as Nerve Control 911 or other B12 variants as typical initial signs of B12 deficiency point towards nerve pain. Vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine) are also intimately involved in nerve repair and pain relief.
Steroids are compounds that the body makes for various functions. For example, in pain, steroids can decrease the production of inflammatory cells that cause inflammation and pain.
Patients can receive steroids orally, injected into the muscle for systemic use, or injected in more specific areas for local treatment. For example, intra-articular injections of steroids, usually in combination with a numbing agent like lidocaine, can be injected into a joint to relieve the pain from arthritis.
Epidural injections place the steroid into a layer of the spinal column to treat spinal pain. Selective nerve blocks focus on a single nerve root. Trigger point injections can alleviate a specific muscle group.
In seizure disorders, these drugs suppress the abnormal energy that generates the seizure. In addition, scientists have found it to also inhibit pain signals from neuropathies or hypersensitized nerves, as in fibromyalgia. Two related pharmaceuticals, Gabapentin, Pregabalin (Lyrica), and Carbamazepine (Tegretol), are available. Each works better for specific conditions.
TENS is a battery-driven device that sends an electric current between two electrodes sensitizing the local area. This signals the production of endorphins and pain modulators to the site that also interacts with the neuritis. It interferes with the modulation, transmission, and perception steps of pain.
Opiate and non-opiate narcotic analgesia have been used and abused for generations. These medications come in oral, sublingual, transcutaneous patches, intramuscular injections, and intravenous injections.
This Asian practice is a licensed professional medical entity in the United |States. It has been an effective treatment for nerve pain for thousands of years.
A Doctor of Chiropractic intervention studies eight years after high school to help with nerve pain, particularly the musculoskeletal contributions causing nerve pain and the consequences of nerve pain on the musculoskeletal system.
Did the nerve pain cause the muscles to tighten, or did the muscle spasm cause the nerve pain? A skilled massage therapist can relieve the pain in any case, if only temporarily.
The Bottom Line
There are many underlying causes of “nerve pain.” Therefore, there is no single definitive answer to how you can treat your nerve pain. However, some therapies overlap. Consult your MD or DC, and develop a comprehensive plan to treat your nerve pain today.