The number of people in the United States living with chronic neuropathic pain is 8.8 percent according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. However, it is possible this number is inaccurate due to people being misdiagnosed or incorrectly describing pain levels (e.g., mild vs. severe or sharp vs. dull).
If you are one of the 8.8 percent, you have many questions about what neuropathic pain is, its causes, and how it is diagnosed and treated. Here is some information that may help you to better understand what you are dealing with.
What Is Neuropathic Pain?
Neuropathic pain is different than nociceptive pain. The later occurs as a result of an acute (abrupt onset) injury and, in most cases, is short-lived, but neuropathic pain is chronic, meaning it will persist, reoccur, and/or get worse over time.
Neuropathic pain is generally associated with your peripheral nervous system, which includes the somatic and autonomic nervous systems. Your somatic nervous system is responsible for transmitting signals from your brain to your organs, including muscles and skin, while your autonomic nervous system transmits signals from your senses, including taste and touch.
The type of pain associated with the peripheral nervous system may come from various health conditions, including diabetes and spinal stenosis. But neuropathic pain can also result from a brain or spinal cord injury.