Neuralgia is pain that follows the line of a nerve. Although it can affect people of any age, it most commonly affects older people. Quite often, it’s impossible to say exactly what causes this pain. It can be some external event such as an accidental injury or the consequences of surgery. It can come from irritation caused by chemicals you touch or consume (obviously, this includes drugs). Or it may be caused by internal physical pressure, say from a swelling or the growth of a tumor, or as the result of a disease. Infections such as shingles and disorders like diabetes can also cause damage to the nerve endings and disrupt the way in which the nervous system transmits messages.
Quite a wide range of different symptoms are said to evidence neuralgia. Movement in one part of the body may be restricted because of the pain, or the way in which the muscles work may be diminished and cause weakness. The skin in the immediate area of the pain can also react differently. For some, there may be a sensation of numbness while others may find increased sensitivity to the touch. However it arises, the effect is to feel the source of the pain as being in a consistent place, close to the surface of the body. This pain may be intermittent or persistent. It may be triggered by touch or movement. Over time, the mass and tone of the muscles in the area may be lost. The body may also not sweat effectively in the affected area because of nerve damage.
Doctors usually test the kidney function and for diabetes to exclude the specific conditions from the diagnosis. Then, the extent of the testing will be driven by the location of the pain and the amount of money available to pay for the tests. There are lab tests and an MRI as options but, without good medical insurance, it can be difficult to get a full work-up. This forces doctors to treat the pain without being sure of the causes. If a tumor or compression is identified, surgery is indicated. Confirmation of diabetes indicates a well-known regimen of treatment. But in default of a diagnosis, the doctor is likely to prescribe tramadol. Given that this changes the way in which the neurotransmitters carry the pain messages from one part of the body to the brain, it’s a natural choice. It can be backed up with analgesics in the form of topical creams to rub in to the affected area.
In a perfect world, you would also be given physical therapy to maintain mobility and muscle tone. Unfortunately, even though the benefits of physical and cognitive behavioral therapy are well documented, the healthcare industry is not yet diverting resources to this area of practice. Hopefully, you can engineer a referral and so avoid your treatment being limited to the pill bottle. No matter how effective tramadol and the other painkillers, there’s a real limit to the time you should take the stronger drugs if you want to keep the risk of dependence at arm’s length.