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Nerve pain

What is nerve pain?

Nerve pain or neuropathic pain is caused by a condition affecting the nerves that carry sensation to the brain. This a particular type of pain that feels different to other types of pain.

It often feels like shooting, stabbing or burning pain. Sometimes it can be as sharp and sudden as an electric shock. People with neuropathic pain are often very sensitive to touch or cold and can experience pain to stimuli that would not normally be painful, such as brushing the skin.

It’s often worse at night. It might be mild or it might be severe.

Nerve pain can be caused by damage to the nerves through disease or injury, causing them to misfire and send pain signals to the brain. This usually happens due to disease (such as diabetes or vitamin B12 deficiency) or an injury to the brain, spinal cords or a nerve.

Your doctor will diagnose it by listening to you and examining you, and perhaps doing some tests.

There are many ways to treat nerve pain. Treating the underlying cause, if there is one, is the first step. Painkillers and a range of different medicines can help. So can non-drug treatments like exercise, acupuncture and relaxation techniques.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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