September often marks the beginning of fall — the time of year for evening walks, sporting activities and harvest treats with loved ones. As we celebrate the season, we also have a unique opportunity in September — pain awareness month — to shed light on nerve pain. Whether it’s from disease, medications, old injuries or treatments, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer a form of neuropathy. We’re taking this time to specifically focus on the pain caused by injuries, also known as mononeuropathy.
Mononeuropathy is a form of neuropathy in which a single nerve is overly compressed, pulled or stretched, and exceeds what the nerve can handle. In some cases, the nerve is partially or completely torn with damage to the surrounding tissues. Typically, patients I see with mononeuropathy have had a repeated stressor to the nerve over a long period of time to cause damage and inflammation or they have sustained a single injury to a specific nerve.
So, what can cause this kind of neuropathy? In all honesty, a lot of things can, typical injuries include:
- Bone fragmentation
- Car Accidents
- Herniated Disks
More commonly, the patients I see have inflamed or damaged a specific nerve from repetitive use over time, such as those with desk jobs. Patients who sit or type for long periods of time often will describe pain developing in their hands or sciatica in their backs.
Signs & Symptoms
Although symptoms of mononeuropathy vary depending on what nerve is damaged and in some cases for specific injuries can be immediately debilitating, other general signs of nerve pain include:
- In the case of a severe injury to the nerve there is color change or swelling around the area that has been damaged
- Difficulty or trouble doing day-to-day activities
- Pins and needle sensation
- Stinging or burning pain
Neuropathic pain from an injury can hinder you from day-to-day activities, but the good news is this kind of neuropathy can be temporary! Treatment for mononeuropathy is typically more straightforward than other neuropathies because it’s non-chronic and neuro degradation has not occurred. The key successful treatment relies on getting it as soon as possible.
I know it’s easy — especially in some of the more wear and tear injuries — to tell ourselves it’s nothing or push it off until later, but nerve pain does not go away on its own without intervention! If you’re experiencing these symptoms, persistent severe pain, or unable to do normal activities, it’s vital that you consult a physician. Be sure to describe where the pain is and the level of pain to your physician. If you had an accident, bring documentation on it and be prepared to describe what happened. The more specific details you’re able to provide your physician, the better it is for them to properly diagnose and recommend treatment.
He or she may have several recommendations on how to medically best reduce your pain and heal your nerve, including medication to control the pain in combination with physical therapy, homeopathic remedies, machines, or acupuncture. Your physician may recommend Intraneural Facilitation or INF™, which can prove to be an effective way to restore blood flow to damaged nerves and eliminate pain that patients experience. Be sure to discuss all these options with your physician to determine the best treatment for you.
From all of us here at the Neuropathic Therapy Center, we want you to remember during Pain Awareness Month that you are not alone in your fight with neuropathy. You too can reduce your pain and lead a pain-free life, but it starts with that first step.