Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, can strike at any time, and many Americans deal with this type of pain on a regular basis. It’s estimated that around two million adults are living with some type of nerve pain in the United States, with many more who may be undiagnosed. No matter the cause, no one wants to experience nerve pain. If you’re experiencing nerve pain on a regular basis, know that you’re not alone and treatment options are readily available.
What is nerve pain?
Nerve pain is caused by nerve damage, which leads to a misfiring of pain signals in the nervous system. This type of pain can be acute, or temporary, or it can become part of a chronic condition that can last for months, years, or even a lifetime. It’s important to identify the root cause of the pain in order to determine the best action to take to treat it.
Many different factors can contribute to nerve pain. Diabetes can often lead to neuropathic pain if it is uncontrolled or severe. Nerve pain can also develop as a result of an injury, such as one to the spine, or a side effect of a particular medication, such as a chemotherapy drug.
Untreated nerve pain can be bothersome and disruptive to daily life. It can even be associated with other complications, such as foot infections, and more severe, permanent damage to the central nervous system. Therefore, it’s critical to get the treatment you need, before it becomes a greater problem.
How to relieve nerve pain
Nerve pain can be relieved through a number ways, including lifestyle changes and over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Your healthcare provider may recommend certain lifestyle changes to help ease your nerve pain. Getting enough exercise can help strengthen your muscles and take the pressure off your nerves, especially if you have a pinched nerve that is contributing to your pain. If exercise is too difficult, you can start with an easy walk around the park. Maintaining a good diet and sleeping enough can also help nourish and repair your body, as well as reduce stress that may be linked to nerve pain flares. Alcohol is known to have an adverse effect on the nerves, so it’s best to avoid or minimize alcohol consumption, especially if it’s a trigger for your pain.
Some medications are available over the counter to help relieve different types of pain, including mild nerve pain. Lidocaine can be purchased as a topical ointment, gel, or patch, and it works as an anesthetic to help temporarily numb pain. Capsaicin, produced from chili peppers, may also be applied topically to help relieve pain. Over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen) may be helpful for those with mild nerve pain.
For those with more chronic or severe types of nerve pain, a prescription medication like an anticonvulsant or antidepressant medication may be recommended by a healthcare provider. An anticonvulsant, like Neurontin, is typically used to treat seizures; however, it also has other nerve-pain relieving effects. Antidepressants, like tricyclic antidepressants or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may be recommended to help treat nerve pain. If you have nerve pain, there’s a possibility you may also be living with depression. Cymbalta is an antidepressant drug FDA-approved for both depression and nerve pain. Diabetes can also be a cause of nerve pain, so it is important to regularly take antidiabetic medications as prescribed to help prevent nerve pain from getting worse or developing in the first place.
Save on your medications for nerve pain
Treatment options are available to improve your quality of life if you’re living with nerve pain. These options, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, can be expensive though, especially if you’re uninsured or underinsured. Fortunately, you can use different savings options, like an Inside Rx discount savings card, to help save on the cost of your medications.
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