This month on PainDoctor.com, we focused on the subject of nerve pain–in all of its varying forms and treatment methods. Through an in-depth coverage of this topic, we’ve hoped to shed some light on the many types of nerve pain, as well as how those with nerve pain can find help.
In addition, October is a time for settling into the holidays and allowing for the bright, crisp season of fall to roll in. There are many holidays and national observances that take place in October, so we made time to discuss those as well.
Understanding nerve pain
Nerve pain seems straightforward–it’s pain that affects the nervous system–but oftentimes it is much more difficult to define and pin down. There are forms of nerve pain that arise due to diabetes. Fibromyalgia, arthritis, and complex regional pain syndrome are all types of nerve pain with very different presentations and symptoms. Nerve pain may be acute and focused at one point in the body or it may almost be all-encompassing and chronic. It may arise due to an injury or a childhood sickness.
In October, we looked at a few rarer types of nerve pain. In particular, we discussed post-herpetic neuralgia and complex regional pain syndrome. As discussed in our post about complex regional pain syndrome:
“Complex regional pain syndrome involves the small fibers in the nerves, causing blood vessels to open wide to leak fluid into the surrounding muscle and tissue. This response causes swelling, redness, and pain. When the small fibers cause constriction, blood vessels cut off the flow of blood and cause the affected limb to feel cold and become white or blue in tone. Those patients who have conditions that affect the blood vessels may be particularly susceptible to this response.”
Knowing what causes the pain, however, doesn’t necessarily define the reason for that cause in the first place. Many people who have the condition have an underlying injury or trauma that is thought to be responsible. However, there may also be a genetic component or a relationship with an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms of this condition may include an extreme sensitivity to touch, changes in skin temperature or color, swelling, pain, or prickling of the skin.
We also discussed post-herpetic neuralgia, a painful skin condition that is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox and shingles. As noted:
“Twenty percent of shingles sufferers may see their rash disappear but will then go on to develop post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a condition that involves the nerves damaged by the shingles virus. In a shingles outbreak, damaged nerves are not able to send signals to the brain, and even though the rash is resolved, the pain remains, generally in the same site of the rash. Burning, stabbing pain is not the only symptom of post-herpetic neuralgia. Symptoms of this condition also include uncontrollable itching, numbness or sensitivity, and muscle weakness.”
If you suffer from this condition, know that there are several treatments available. Pain relievers, anti-depressants, and anticonvulsants have all provided some relief to patients suffering from post-herpetic neuralgia.
In October, we also discussed diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This condition is very closely related to diabetes. Doctors estimate that 60-70% of people with diabetes will eventually suffer from some form of diabetic neuropathy. With this condition, pain and numbness is mostly located in the extremities. Traditional treatments include anti-depressants or prescription opioids. Non-traditional methods of treatment include:
“[B]iofeedback, acupuncture, and physical therapy. Some patients use magnet therapy to find relief. Several vitamin supplements have shown promise in treatment of symptoms. These can include things like St. John’s wort, vitamin E, evening primrose oil, L-arginine, taurine, and L-glutamine.”
The importance of chiropractic care
With the observance of National Chiropractic Health Month in October, we also took some time to discuss the many benefits of chiropractic treatment, as well as the conditions this form of therapy can help. The American Chiropractic Association–the organizers of this month-long observance–state that this month is meant to spread awareness about chiropractic care. It’s also, however, meant to:
- Encourage doctors to approach patients holistically
- Redefine chiropractic care as a first-line attack, rather than a second-wave defense
- Examine how chiropractic care can be used as a complement of other treatment options, rather than as a way to eliminate them
Chiropractic care can also be used to treat a number of conditions, not only the musculoskeletal issues commonly associated with chiropractic care. As noted in our post, it can also help treat arthritis, bursitis, multiple sclerosis, and sciatica.
Finally, even though chiropractic care is a physical treatment method, there are also mental and financial benefits for its use. Consider that:
“Chiropractic treatments also focus on a patient-centered approach that emphasizes early detection. If an issue arises and is caught early, regardless of what the issue is, chances are good that less medical intervention will be necessary. Less medical intervention means more money stays in the patient’s pocket. It may seem as if a biweekly adjustment on a healthy spine is a luxury, but if this visit catches and heals something early, then the benefits are enormous.”
October holidays and events
October wasn’t only host to National Chiropractic Health Month. We also observed World Arthritis Day, a day meant to promote awareness of this pain condition that affects over 175 million people worldwide.
Likewise, we also included suggestions for safe celebrating of two October holidays: Yom Kippur and Halloween. Living with a pain condition may sometimes mean making adjustments to life, but it does not mean that life has to be missed. As we discussed in these two posts, there are safe ways to fast for religious purposes or enjoy spooky affairs. Doing so requires some forethought, planning, and flexibility.
What was your favorite post from October?
Image by paul bica via Flickr