Piercing sharp pain when nerve trunks or endings are affected is one of the most painful syndromes. The immediate cause of neuralgia is compression of nerves passing through narrow channels, adjacent tendons, muscles or deformed vertebrae. Although neuralgic symptoms bring a lot of suffering, they are not life-threatening in themselves and are practically not accompanied by other pathological signs.
Causes and signs of neuralgia
Neuralgia is a pain syndrome caused by affected trunks of autonomic nerves. This is one of the main signs of neuropathy. The provoking factors of the appearance of so-called lumbago are usually chronic or acute inflammatory processes, hypothermia, mechanical injuries, dislocations of articular structures, degenerative processes in them. Neuralgia is a sharp sudden pain attack that causes the body to twitch convulsively, take a forced position. It can torment regularly and for a long time or develops at lightning speed. It can be caused by careless actions – touching displaced or swollen areas of exposed nerves.
The attack may periodically subside and collapse again just as suddenly. The pain in neuralgia is clearly outlined, sometimes gives off to nearby areas of the body, accompanied by spastic contractions of adjacent muscles. It usually has a burning character, literally tears from the inside, spreads over tissues close to the affected nerve. It is impossible to ignore it, somehow get used to it or endure it for a long time without the use of analgesics.
The localization of seizures depends on the location of the affected nerves:
- trigeminal neuralgia reduces the area of the cheekbone, bridge of the nose, gives into the teeth and chin, an attack can cause brushing teeth or chewing food;
- with neuralgia of the shoulder joint, pain pierces the arm, radiates into the shoulder blade and neck;
- when the external femoral nerve is affected, the symptoms cover the lower limb and pelvic area;
- intercostal neuralgia shoots through the chest area, has a shingling character, can be triggered by sneezing or coughing;
- sciatic nerve neuralgia: covers the pelvic area and the upper back of the thighs, gives to the lower back.
Distinctive features of neuralgia
The impetus for the development of seizures can be infectious processes, chronic or acute intoxication, joint injuries as a result of falls, physical exertion, inflammation, systemic diseases, infringement of nerve trunks by soft tissues, cartilage or bone fragments. Persistent posture disorders, scoliosis, arthritis, osteoarthritis often lead to pathology. The provoker of trigeminal neuralgia is malocclusion, deep infections of the teeth or gums. Infringement of the sciatic is caused by the consequences of osteochondrosis, protrusion of intervertebral discs, hernias. Growing brain tumors lead to the defeat of the occipital nerve. Sometimes the examination does not reveal the true factors of the development of seizures, in these cases the pathology is considered idiopathic.
Depending on the immediate causes of neuralgia, they consist only in severe pain or are accompanied by other symptoms: decreased sensitivity, itching, impaired mobility of an unhealthy part of the body, its swelling, convulsive syndrome.
The condition tends to worsen with hypothermia of the body, during periods of stress, as a result of active or careless movements, mechanical effects on the diseased part of the body. During seizures, patients are unable to do everyday things, they cannot lead a normal life. Most of them are forced to stay in the same position for a long time, move with caution, since any unsuccessful movement of the body causes additional suffering. In chronic diseases, pressing on the so-called trigger points that touch the nerve endings can provoke a painful attack.
Diagnosis of pathology
A preliminary diagnosis is made by neurologists based on the studied anamnesis and complaints made by patients. To identify the true causes of pain syndrome and differentiate neuralgia from other pathologies, a number of laboratory and instrumental studies are prescribed:
- biochemical blood analysis;
- identification of infectious agents;
- Ultrasound of internal organs;
- CT and MRI of the musculoskeletal system, soft tissues.
Additionally, the neurologist prescribes consultations of narrow specialists depending on the patient’s systemic chronic, congenital, genetic diseases.
Treatment of the disease
In an acute state, the pain syndrome requires urgent relief with medications. Injections of NSAIDs, glucocorticoid hormones, non-narcotic or opioid analgesics are usually used. To eliminate spasms, therapy is supplemented with muscle relaxants. In some cases, a drug blockade is carried out: a dose of anesthetic drugs is injected into the area of the affected nerve nodes. In infectious pathologies, antimicrobial agents are included in the treatment regimen. At the end of the course of injections, they begin to eliminate the chronic causes of neuralgia:
- in case of degenerative processes or infringement of nerves by closely located tissues, special stretching exercises are prescribed;
- to improve the trophic tissues, prevent edema and subsequent inflammation, massage courses, electrophoresis, magnetotherapy and other physiotherapy are recommended.
With the approval of a doctor at home, analgesic ointments or compresses can be used for the treatment and prevention of neuralgia. To maintain normal posture in case of spinal curvature or osteochondrosis, it is useful to buy and wear special bandages.