Neuropathic pain results from damage to or dysfunction of the peripheral or central nervous system , triggered by trauma, infections and nervous system disorders. It is often characterized by pain out of proportion to tissue injury. Pain can develop after injury to any level of the nervous system, peripheral or central; the sympathetic nervous system may be involved. Specific syndromes include postherpetic neuralgia, root avulsions, painful traumatic mononeuropathy, painful polyneuropathy (particularly due to diabetes), central pain syndromes (potentially caused by any lesion at any level of the nervous system), postsurgical pain syndromes, and complex regional pain syndrome. In 2007, a study cited in the Journal of Pain estimated that 170 to 270 million people around the world suffer from peripheral neuropathy (e.g., phantom limb syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome) and neuropathic pain.
Neuropathic pain has been described as numbing or burning, plus sensations of tingling, electric shock, crawling, itching, or shooting. Mild pain stimuli are perceived as very painful. Pain on one side of the body is also felt on the other side. The area of pain increases to include larger and larger areas of the body. This type of pain is difficult to treat and often requires a combination of pharmacological therapies, psychological counseling and the use of some form of alternative and complementary medicine.
Standard medical treatments:
SSRI’s including Prozac or Cymbalta,
Tricyclic Antidepressantss – Elavil
Neurontin or Lyrica
Topical medications, such as capsaicin cream and Lidocaine patches
Oxydodone, Morphine, etc.
Other medications, such as muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medicines and sleep medicines
TENS unit treatment
Treatment of underlying metabolic problem
Supportive and alternative treatments:
Fish oil – anti-inflammatory
Capsaicin cream 0.01% – increases circulation
Vitamin B complex, especially B6 – nerve nutrient
Magnesium – muscle relaxant, often low in peripheral neuropathy
Alpha lipoic acid – antioxidant used in diabetic neuropathy
Glutathione – strong antioxidant
Hypericum – for nerve pain
Oat seed – nerve calming and tonic
Ginko biloba – increases peripheral circulation
St. Johnswort – increases serotonin and nerve tonic
Hydrotherapy – hot epsom salt soaks, herbal warm packs
Analgesic packs – castor oil, hemp oil, Chinese herbal liniment
Neuropathic Pain and Cannabis
Cannabis has been known to be effective for nerve pain since the 1800s. Patients often report that they achieve better control of neuropathic pain with cannabis than with many other medications and can often decrease or eliminate their need for Neurontin or Lyrica. It is also helpful used topically, for conditions like shingles or sciatica. The treatment of pain, particularly neuropathic pain, is one of the therapeutic applications of cannabis that is currently under investigation. Several research studies of the efficacy of cannabis in treating neuropathic pain have recently been published. Sativex, a cannabis based medicine has been approved in Great Britain for use in the treatment of neuropathic pain in Multiple Sclerosis. Cannabis is slowly becoming accepted as a useful option in the treatment of neuropathic pain. In addition to cannabis’s analgesic (pain reduction) properties it also can improve depression that often arises from chronic pain. It may improve appetite, help sleep and eliminate the nausea often caused by opiate analgesics.