Types of Neuropathy Pain
Neuropathy refers to dysfunction of the peripheral nerves — the nerves that connect the central nervous system with the organs and limbs. Although neuropathic pain and other resulting symptoms can be troublesome, they are usually not the primary disease. Instead, neuropathic symptoms often reveal a problem elsewhere, such as cancer or diabetes.
In some cases, treating the underlying cause is enough to relieve neuropathy, but in other cases, we must treat the nerve symptoms separately. For instance, over time, some illnesses can cause permanent neurological damage at the cellular level. Once this occurs, it becomes very difficult to reverse the nerve damage, so we must treat the neuropathy directly in order to alleviate symptoms.
Types of Neuropathy Pain
Not all neuropathies are alike. The progression, symptoms and treatment may vary according to the underlying cause.
1. Autoimmune Neuropathy
In this disease process, the immune system mistakenly attacks one’s own body instead of recognizing it as “self.” Examples include Polyneuropathy, or the loss of the myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers, and Vasculitic Neuropathy, which targets the blood vessels. Immune therapy (IVIG) is often helpful in these cases.
2. Compressive Entrapment Neuropathy
Excessive external pressure reduces the local blood supply and pushes on the nerves. Pain is often present, followed by muscle atrophy (loss) if a prolonged injury is not treated.
3. Congenital Hereditary Neuropathy
Congenital abnormalities, caused by genetics, can also produce nerve pain. Examples include Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease and Fabry’s Disease.
4. Infectious Neuropathy
Infection by certain viruses can cause long-term neuropathy pain as HIV, leprosy, Lyme disease and post-herpetic neuralgia.
5. Metabolic Neuropathy
Most common in diabetes patients and those with nutritional deficiencies, this occurs when insufficient vitamins and minerals interfere with normal cellular processes, causing nerve cell degeneration.
6. Toxic Neuropathy
This may result from treating cancer with chemo-radiation, treating tuberculosis with Isoniazid and thallium, or being exposed to harmful chemicals in the environment, such as lead or arsenic. The accumulation of toxic substances disrupts cellular processes, including those of the nerve cells.
7. Trauma Neuropathy
After an amputation, phantom limb syndrome can send false pain signals to the brain. Similarly, a trauma or injury that does not heal correctly may lead to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD), which involves dysfunctional processing throughout the entire body’s nerve systems.May 19, 2014