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How To Identify Neuropathic Pain

How To Identify Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is a complex and chronic pain state that usually occurs due to dysfunction or damage to the nervous system. It can impair your quality of life and is often difficult to diagnose and treat. Therefore, it is important to understand what to look for if you suspect you may be experiencing neuropathic pain.

Understanding Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain stems from damage to the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. This condition disrupts the normal functioning of these vital communication pathways, resulting in chronic pain and other neurological symptoms.

Symptoms of Nerve Pain

The symptoms of neuropathic pain can vary widely, depending on the underlying cause of the nerve damage. Common symptoms of neuropathic pain include:

  • Burning, shooting, or stabbing pain
  • Electric shock-like sensations
  • Tingling or numbness in the affected area
  • Sensitivity to touch or temperature changes
  • Muscle weakness or loss of coordination
  • Symptoms that temporarily improve with movement
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Cognitive decline (brain fog)

In some cases, individuals might experience a heightened sensitivity to touch, known as hyperesthesia, an exaggerated response to painful stimuli, called hyperalgesia, or allodynia, which is a painful response to non-painful stimuli.

Causes of Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic can be a result of conditions like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or shingles. It can also result from psychological disorders, nerve injuries, or infections that affect the nervous system. However, some people may develop neuropathic pain without any apparent cause or triggering event, making treatment even more complicated.

How to Identify Neuropathic Pain

Differentiating neuropathic pain from other types of pain can be challenging. The first step is understanding your symptoms. Regular documentation of the pain’s nature, timing, location, and triggering factors can be helpful. Moreover, noting any accompanying symptoms, such as muscle weakness or changes in sensation, is crucial.

Healthcare providers use a combination of methods to identify neuropathic pain. These include a thorough medical history, physical examination, and specific diagnostic tests, such as nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), or imaging studies like MRI.

Managing Neuropathic Pain

There is no cure for neuropathic pain, but treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. These include:

Medications: Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are often used to treat neuropathic pain. These include drugs like amitriptyline, gabapentin, pregabalin, and duloxetine. Opioids can also provide some relief for some patients.

Nerve blocks: Injections of local anesthetics or steroids around the affected nerves can temporarily relieve pain. This includes techniques like epidural steroid injections and lumbar sympathetic blocks.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy: These therapies can help improve function and mobility and improve pain tolerance.

Lifestyle changes: Weight loss, exercise, stress reduction techniques, and following a healthy diet can all potentially help alleviate neuropathic pain.

Surgery: For some patients with neuropathic pain caused by nerve compression or injury, surgical intervention may be required to decompress or repair the nerves. This includes procedures like laminectomy, rhizotomy, and spinal cord stimulation.

Complementary therapies: Some patients find relief with acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage therapy, or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy.

The treatment approach for neuropathic pain is often multi-modal, using a combination of medications, procedures, and lifestyle changes tailored to the individual patient.

Final Thoughts

Neuropathic pain is a debilitating condition that often results in severe impairment. And while there are treatment options available to help manage the pain, the effectiveness may vary from one person to another. Some individuals may find that traditional treatments alone are not enough to effectively manage their pain.

At Advanced Wellness & Pain, we understand that traditional treatment methods may not work for everyone. That’s why we offer patient-tailored ketamine treatments to help individuals manage neuropathic pain when other treatments have failed. Ketamine is an evidence-based alternative treatment that has shown great promise in managing treatment-resistant chronic pain conditions, especially in cases where there is an underlying neuropathic component to the pain.

If you are interested in learning more about ketamine for neuropathic pain treatment in Scottsdale, AZ, contact us at Advanced Wellness and Pain and request your consultation today.

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James T. Leathem, DO

Dr. James Leathem is a board-certified anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor of science in marketing management with minors in sociology and communications. He obtained his medical degree from Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in anesthesiology at Michigan State University and its affiliated McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.

In 2015, after residency, Dr. Leathem returned to Arizona to practice anesthesiology. He joined Red Mountain Anesthesiologists and worked primarily at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, performing 100% of his own cases. He was made partner in the group after demonstrating 3 years of anesthesia excellence and administering over 4,000 anesthetics. In 2019, a corporate change occurred and an opportunity presented itself in which he was able to transition out of the hospital to surgery center and clinic-based anesthesia.

Dr. Leathem realizes that the only constant in life is change. In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, his career took a different direction. This change led him to collaborate with Dr. Wong and Dr. Sharma and they founded Advanced Wellness and Pain (AWAP). Their mission is to provide a variety of state-of-the-art procedural services that improve patients’ quality of life and overall physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Leathem believes that we are all a work in progress and that each day, one should strive to make positive changes in their life. He is here to help empower each patient on their journey to be their best self and live their best life. When you are being cared for by Dr. Leathem, you can be assured that he will give you his undivided attention and time.

Gregory Wong, MD

Dr. Wong is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of both the American Society of Anesthesiology and the Arizona Society of Anesthesiology. He did his undergraduate training at the University of California at Davis, Davis, California; doctorate training at The University of Health Sciences of the Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL; and his post-doctoral training at the Integrated Program at the University of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ. He has spent his whole 24-year career practicing in Arizona.

Dr. Wong grew up in the Bay Area of California. He is married and is raising three daughters. At the early age of 12 years old, he knew he wanted to become a physician. His love of the human spirit, intrigue of human physiology, and compassion for human suffering led him to the path of anesthesiology and pain medicine.

Today, Dr. Wong realizes patients need a holistic biophysical-mental-spiritual care. This philosophy has brought him to the studies of regenerative medicine and infusion therapies. He has firsthandily witnessed the overwhelming success of these therapies for treating chronic pain and depression and the return of patients of “life-functionality.”

“There has never been a time more important than now to advocate for our patients in these difficult times. We owe it to our patients to offer these state-of-the-art treatment modalities that weren’t available before.”

Deepak Sharma, MD, MBA

Dr. Sharma is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He completed three degrees at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA: a Bachelor in Finance, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Medicine. He went on to complete residency at the Mount Sinai Morningside-West Hospital System in New York, NY and post-graduate fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA.

Dr. Sharma is committed to treating his patients as a whole with a comprehensive biophysical-mental-spiritual approach. He is a lifelong learner and is constantly researching cutting-edge therapies backed by scientific studies. He has taken a particular interest in regenerative and infusion therapies after witnessing firsthand their significant benefits on those suffering from chronic pain and depression. In his free time, Dr. Sharma enjoys spending time with his family and friends, hiking, traveling, reading, and meditation.

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