Neuralgia is a medical condition characterized by intense and sudden shooting pain, which arises from a damaged or irritated nerve. Neuralgia can affect any part of the body, leading to mild to severe discomfort. However, there are certain medications and surgical procedures available that are effective in treating neuralgia.

When a person experiences severe neuralgia, it can significantly impede their ability to complete routine activities and ultimately affect their quality of life.

What causes neuralgia?

The most common types of neuralgia do not have any structural problems associated with the nerves or any discernible cause.

Secondary neuralgia occurs when a nerve is invaded or compressed by a lesion, which may include a tumor, vascular malformation, demyelinating disease (e.g., multiple sclerosis), or infectious disease (e.g., caused by the herpes zoster virus) among others.

Trigeminal neuralgia cases have revealed that many patients who have undergone surgical treatments for supposed primary neuralgia have had blood vessels compressing the trigeminal root.

Symptoms of Neuralgia

  • Pain commonly described as a feeling of sharp, stabbing, burning or throbbing
  • Weakness in the adjacent muscles
  • Numbness
  • Increased sensitivity along the nerve path

Neuralgia Types

Types of neuralgia include the following:

Occipital Neuralgia – It is characterized by pain arising from the occipital nerve that runs through the scalp.

Postherpetic Neuralgia – The condition causes nerve pain (shingles)

Trigeminal Neuralgia – This condition is characterized by pain from the trigeminal nerve responsible for carrying sensation from face to the brain.

Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia – The condition is characterized by pain in the throat, ear and tongue.

How is neuralgia treated?

Secondary Neuralgias – The condition is treated by resolving the actual cause of the neuralgia (resection of tumours, aneurysms, treat infections, etc.).

Primary, or Idiopathic Neuralgia – It is treated by Pharmacological solutions. The most commonly used and prescribed options include administration of antiepileptics.

In some cases, primary neuralgia may not respond to drugs. Under such conditions, surgery is advised to free the nerve of possible vascular compressions. It also helps in curing the fibres responsible for pain.

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