Neuropathic Pain



From The Pain Community Centre.


Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to- or dysfunction of- the peripheral and central nervous system, rather than stimulation of pain receptors. It can involve any level of the nervous system including the sympathetic nervous system (sympathetically-maintained pain).  Neuropathic pain does not occur in all patients and it is unclear what mechanisms predispose to the development of neuropathic pain in individual patients. In neuropathic pain the nerve fibres may be damaged, dysfunctional or injured.

The impact of injury includes a change in nerve function both at the site of injury and areas around the injury. This leads to incorrect signals being sent to the brain. The brain perceives that these signals are coming from pain receptors in the skin or organs where in fact this is not the case. Phantom pain following limb amputation is a good example of this. Certain conditions or factors are implicated in the development of neuropathic pain, including: diabetes, chemotherapy, shingles, surgery, alcoholism and HIV infection.


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