“Regular” Pain or Neuropathy? What’s the Difference?

June 9, 2022 | Brain and Spine Specialists

It is nearly impossible to predict when pain will strike. When pain is present, knowing what is causing it (and addressing it as soon as possible) is critical, as it may signal a broader underlying problem. But how can you tell if the pain you are experiencing is “normal” or a symptom of neuropathy?

What is Neuropathy?

Sometimes referred to as peripheral neuropathy, neuropathy is the term for conditions that impact an individual’s nervous system. Neuropathy is more common than you might assume. In fact, it is estimated that about 25% to 30% of Americans will be affected by neuropathy in their lifetime.

What are the symptoms of neuropathy?

The most common symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Tingling (pins and needles sensation) or numbness, especially in the hands and feet. Sensations can also spread to the arms and legs.
  • Sharp, burning, throbbing, stabbing or electric-like pain.
  • Changes in sensation. Severe pain, especially at night. Inability to feel pain, pressure, temperature or touch.
  • Falling or loss of coordination.
  • Not being able to feel things in your feet and hands – feeling like you’re wearing socks or gloves when you’re not.
  • Muscle weakness, difficulty walking or moving your arms or legs.

What are the causes of neuropathy?

Diabetes is among, if not the most common cause of neuropathy. It has also been known to be triggered by injuries, infections, and exposure to toxins. Although older people are particularly at risk, neuropathy has been known to affect people of all ages. In adults over 65 years of age, it is reported that neuropathy affects approximately 8% of the population pool.

How is neuropathy treated?

Though less common, it is possible to treat and sometimes even cure cases of neuropathy. Depending on the patient, some cases of neuropathy can be managed using antiseizure or antidepressant medications. Injections for pain may also be an option for treatment. The most extreme cases may require surgery to destroy nerves or repair injuries that are causing neuropathic pain and symptoms. In the event that neuropathy cannot be cured, treatment aims to control symptoms and prevent further nerve damage.

What is the difference between regular pain and nerve pain?

There are a few important differences between the characteristics of nerve and muscle pain, one of which is chronic pain. Pain that endures without improvement for an extended, or infinite, period of time is considered chronic. Many patients who experience nerve pain suffer long-term side effects as a result of damaged tissue.

How can I tell if I have neuropathy?

The only way to know if your symptoms could be caused by neuropathy is to consult a trusted and knowledgeable physician.

What should I do if I think I have neuropathy?

If you believe your symptoms could be a sign of neuropathy or nerve damage, contact the expert physicians at Brain and Spine Specialists where you’ll receive the best care. Our team of neurologists are board-certified and experienced in diagnosing many forms of neuropathy.

Contact us today to schedule your neuropathy consultation!