Nerve Pain

Nerves are literally everywhere in our body, transmitting signals from the brain to the body and back. The central area for many nerves is the spinal cord. Nerve pain is a red flag that something is not right. However, because nerves run throughout our bodies, the source of the pain may not be in the same area of the body where there is a problem. Once a physician identifies the causes of the nerve pain, he or she can also identify the treatments that may be most effective.
Learn more about some of the common nerve pain conditions we treat.
Headache and Occipital Neuralgia
More than 15% of the U.S. population suffer from recurring headaches. Headaches can be a sign of stress or emotional distress, or they can be caused from a medical disorder like migraines, high blood pressure, depression, or anxiety. Chronic headaches are headaches that occur frequently at least 15 days per month during a 6 month period.

Occipital neuralgia is a rare type of chronic headache. Occipital neuralgia is caused by damage or dysfunction of the occipital nerves- two pairs of nerves that originate near the second and third vertebrae of the neck. Symptoms of occipital neuralgia include throbbing pain that beings at the base of the skull and runs to the top of the neck. Occipital neuralgia usually comes and goes. Flare-ups cause tenderness and sharp pain lasting a few seconds to minutes and are triggered by things like brushing the hair, lying on a pillow or just touching the affected area of the head. While the exact cause of occipital neuralgia isn’t known, many medical professionals believe trauma, tumors, or inflammation that irritate the occipital nerves play a role.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy typically occurs after an injury, stroke, or heart attack. The sympathetic nervous system tells the blood vessels around the injury to becomes smaller to avoid losing too much blood. Later it directs them to widen again to increase blood flow to the healing tissue. When a person has reflex sympathetic dystrophy, the body does not get the signal to widen the blood vessels again. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy can cause severe, long-lasting pain in an arm or leg. The pain of the disorder is often worse than the pain from the initial injury, stroke, or heart attack. While the exact cause is unknown, experts believe this disorder occurs due to problems in the sympathetic nervous system (this is the part of the nervous system that regulates blood pressure and heart rate).
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic pain condition that often affects one limb (leg, arm, foot, or hand) usually after an injury. This condition is caused by an injury to a nerve or around a nerve. It causes intense burning pain, swelling, skin discoloration, and stiffness most commonly in the hands.

Complex regional pain syndrome ranges from acute (Stage 1) to dystrophic (Stage 2) to atrophic (Stage 3.)

Diabetic Neuropathy
People with diabetes who are not properly managing their blood sugar are likely to develop a condition called diabetic neuropathy. Blood sugar that is consistently too high cause damage to the nerves over time due to a reduced amount of blood flow to the outer limbs. Diabetic neuropathy usually causes nerve pain in the legs and feet. If not treated, symptoms may also be felt in the hands and arms. Symptoms often worsen at night and range from mild pain to severe numbness that reduces the ability to feel pain or temperatures, tingling, burning, muscle weakness, foot pain, and trouble with balance and coordination.
  1. Stage 1 lasts 3 months or less; symptoms include burning pain and heightened sensitivity to touch that is longer-lasting and more constant that one would expect after an injury. Additionally, hair and nail growth may be faster than usual in the affected area.
  2. Stage 2 lasts from 3-12 months and is characterized by swelling, cooler skin temperature, brittle fingernails, and widespread pain and sensitivity to touch.
  3. Stage 3 occurs a year after an injury. Skin becomes pale, dry, tight, and shiny. Range of motion is severely impacted due to increased stiffness, while pain may decrease.
Phantom Limb
People who have had limb amputations may experience post-amputation shooting or stabbing pain, burning, or throbbing, or pins-and-needles sensations in the part of the limb that would be furthest from the body (such as the hand of an amputated arm). Phantom limb pain is pain that feels like it’s coming from a limb or appendage that no longer exists. These pain sensations begin in the spinal cord nerves and result from mixed signals between the spinal cord and the brain and can be treated by a pain management specialist.
Nerve Pain Treatment
Just as the causes of nerve pain vary significantly, so will treatment options. A pain management specialist can evaluate the reasons for your pain and assess how severe it is. Based on that and your overall health, a nerve pain treatment plan can be recommended.
Nerve Pain Treatment
Just as the causes of nerve pain vary significantly, so will treatment options. A pain management specialist can evaluate the reasons for your pain and assess how severe it is. Based on that and your overall health, a nerve pain treatment plan can be recommended.