What is neuralgia and what different types exist?
The term Neuralgia refers to pain that comes from a nerve, Neuralgias can affect different areas but are are more common in the face and head. Neuralgia may be the cause of some forms of headache.
The two main types of neuralgia are:
- trigeminal neuralgia (involves very intense facial pain for short periods)
- postherpatic neuralgia (continuous nerve pain that occurs as a complication of shingles
How is neuralgia diagnosed?
Neuralgia (other than postherpatic neuralgia) can be difficult to diagnose. A history of the pain, description of pain, clinical examination, and experimental examination may all be required.
Your Spire neurologist will typically locate the damaged nerve by identifying missing sensory or motor function. This may involve tests such as an EMG test or a nerve conduction test (such as using microneurography) in which the peripheral nerve is stimulated and recordings are taken from a purely-sensory portion of the nerve.
Such clinical examinations usually involve testing responses to stimuli such as touch, temperature, and vibration. The assessment of any response to particular treatments may be the final tool used to determine the mechanism of the pain.
What is involved in treating neuralgia?
There are a range of different treatment approaches for the various forms of neuralgia and your Spire neurologist will discuss the options with you.
Neuralgias may be treated by:
- pain medication
- specialised medication
- heat treatments
Neuralgia can be more difficult to treat than many other types of pain as it does not usually respond very well to normal pain medications. Other types of medication that may be used to treat neuralgia include anticonvulsant medications, and membrane stabilizing drugs or antidepressants.
Recent advances in neurosurgery have also enabled new surgical approaches to be used by neurosurgeons to treat some cases of persistent neuralgia including trigeminal neuralgia.