Nerve pain often feels like a burning, stabbing, or shooting pain, but can also manifest as numbness or tingling. This type of pain is likely to be neuropathic pain, caused by damage or irritation to a nerve.
Discomfort caused by nerve pain can be caused by a variety of conditions (e.g., diabetes) or by the nerve being pinched by adjacent bones or ligaments.
For instance, spinal disc herniation or spinal canal narrowing (stenosis) may press on a nerve leaving the spinal canal, causing pain along the path of the nerve in areas such as in the buttocks or down the leg (typically for nerves originating in the lower spine). Similarly, pain caused by carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by inflammation in tendons pressing on the nerve in the wrist. This can also cause numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers.
Nerve pain is typically shooting and fiery, and characteristically comes and goes. It is often accompanied by numbness and tingling.
Underlying issues that may increase your risk of nerve pain include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Repetitive stress
- Alcohol abuse
- Vitamin deficiency
- Exposure to toxic substances
A thorough medical history and physical examination is necessary to determine what type of pain you are feeling and whether it is stemming from issues related to tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, or conditions that overlap.
Certain imaging tests are also helpful, including x-ray, CT scan, and MRI. Other diagnostic tests that may be helpful include electrodiagnostic studies and blood tests.
- Topical treatments
- Electrical stimulation
- Lifestyle changes