Neuropathic Pain - Cause

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What was the cause of your neuropathic pain?

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What are the causes of and risks for neuropathy and neuropathic pain?

There are multiple causes of neuropathy, ranging from diabetes mellitus (the most common cause of neuropathy in the U.S.) to exposure to toxins. Many illnesses -- not just diabetes -- may be associated with development of neuropathy, including HIV and kidney failure. Injury to a peripheral nerve can lead to neuropathy. Alcohol and tobacco can lead to neuropathy and some prescription drugs have been shown to cause neuropathy. Shingles (herpes zoster) can lead to pain in the nerve fibers which were affected by the rash. Once neuropathy has developed, pain may begin at any point. At this time, doctors aren't able to predict who will develop neuropathic pain; in fact, many people are unaware of the presence of neuropathy until pain begins.

A partial list of factors which can cause peripheral neuropathy:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Injury/trauma
  • Disc herniation/spinal stenosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid hormone abnormality
  • Excess growth hormone
  • Vitamin deficiency (vitamin E, B1, B6, B12, niacin)
  • Alcoholism
  • Vasculitis/blood vessel disease
  • Tumor formation/cancer
  • Repetitive stress injury (such as carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Toxin exposure (arsenic, lead, mercury, thallium, others)
  • Prescription medications (chemotherapeutic agents, antiseizure medications, antibiotics, others)
  • Infections (shingles, HIV, Lyme disease, diphtheria, leprosy)
  • Inherited (genetic) causes

People can decrease their risk of developing neuropathy by limiting their exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and environmental toxins, as well as maintaining good general health.

Return to Neuropathic Pain

See what others are saying

Comment from: Laura , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 14

I have had chronic pain for over 4 years now. It started after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in both of my breasts. I had bilateral mastectomies with immediate reconstruction. I have burning pain in my chest wall. My surgeons and family practice physicians didn't know what to do except give me more narcotics and put me in physical therapy. I have been through 2 rounds of physical therapy, pain management clinic, breast reduction (I wanted him to take my implant out but he talked me into reducing first, I was never big just a small C cup) and injections by anesthesiologists. I even did a trial of the implanted spinal nerve stimulator, I really hated that. So now the good news is, I am seeing a doctor that practices alternative medicine. In the past two months she had reduced my fentanyl patch from 67mg to 25mg. We reduced only 12.5mg every two weeks. And reduced my Lortabs from 12 a day to 9. She has used acupuncture and other medicines called Vistaril (helps with opioid withdrawal), desipramine (antidepressant), clonodine (opioid withdrawal), Gralise (this was used instead of my Neurontin, used for nerve pain). I also have a muscle relaxant but rarely use it. It has been almost 2 months since I started working with her but I am so pleased.

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Comment from: jgilson, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 21

I have had severe pain mostly in lower back and legs for about 16 years. I have been to many doctors that have either told me "you are too young to have pain like this" or "you have spinal problems". And MRI after MRI has proven that I have multiple back problems, yet none of my doctors want to help my pain. All they want to do is give me a prescription that I could pretty much double the dose of the OTC version and send me on my way. I finally, After 16 agonizing Years of being in pain, that no one else understands, went to a neurosurgeon to discuss surgery, I had written down ALL of my symptoms for him to go over. He did his evaluation and immediately said, "I am going to refer you to a neurologist because the majority of your symptoms sound like neuropathy. I will find out tomorrow who I was referred to and hopefully will, finally, after 16 years, get some REAL answers and maybe, some REAL HELP!

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