Mystery Pain was a campaign we led in 2009. It was a patient information campaign on how to recognise neuropathic pain, with support from Pfizer, Spinal Injuries Ireland, Irish Pain Society, Diabetes Ireland and the Irish Pain Society. Some of the information from the leaflet is reproduced below.
Chronic Pain Ireland also produced A Guide To Neuropathic Pain as part of this campaign.
You may have to try several different treatments and there is no guarantee that you will be totally pain free but it is important to remember that you will be in control of your pain.
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Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain that results from damage to either the nerves that normally sense pain or other parts of the nervous system that transmit pain signals, such as the spine or the brain.
Neuropathic pain has no protective function, but once it has been properly diagnosed, the good news is that it can be treated.
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Everybody’s pain is different. If you have neuropathic pain, the pain you have can be felt anywhere in your body and you may experience one or more of the following sensations:
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Many people develop neuropathic pain without any specific cause. However, a number of conditions can directly damage nerves and lead to neuropathic pain, such as:
- An accident (i.e. deep tissue wound, broken bones)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Amputation of a limb (phantom pain)
Neuropathic pain can also be a relatively common complication of other conditions which affect the nerves, such as:
- Back pain
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How can I manage neuropathic pain
Keep a pain diary
Noting down the worst and mildest pains you felt in the last 24 hours and anything you did that triggered the pain or made it feel better, and whether your pain interfered with your sleep. It may be useful to bring this diary when you next visit your doctor.
Regularly discuss your pain with your doctor
Especially if it is not improving or you have concerns about it.
Talk openly about your pain with family and friends
Get advice from your doctor about exercise and relaxation techniques that may help you.
Remember that pain can be a long-term condition that needs long-term management, so be patient. Don’t suffer alone – help is available.
The pain you feel is real and, with the correct help, could be effectively managed. Make an appointment with your doctor and describe your symptoms clearly. They could be able to provide a diagnosis for your pain and will discuss the treatment options with you. You may not find the solution straight away but there is help available.
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Knowing the best way to discuss and communicate your symptoms with your doctor is a big step towards finding the right treatment for you.
You may be offered a number of options, including:
- Physiotherapy (for assessment and management)
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
- Psychological strategies (to help you come to terms with your pain, relaxation techniques, psychotherapeutic methods)
Because neuropathic pain can vary between patients, the way that doctors can treat it may vary as well.
Ask your doctor about neuropathic pain and the treatments available.