The term neuralgia refers to pain that comes from a nerve. Neuralgias can affect different areas of the body but are more common in the face and head. Treatment of the condition will depend on the form of neuralgia you have.
There are two main types of neuralgia:
This condition causes very intense facial pain for short periods. There are an estimated 6,500 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK, according to the NHS. It is usually caused when the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sensation in your face, becomes compressed. Everyday actions such as washing or touching your face can trigger shooting pains.
In rare cases, a tumour or conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) can damage the nerve.
This type of neuralgia is a continuous nerve pain that occurs as a complication of shingles. Up to one in every five people with shingles will develop post-herpetic neuralgia, according to the NHS. You may feel stabbing pain, be more sensitive to pain than normal and feel itchy in the affected area.
Neuralgia can be the cause of some forms of headache.
Neuralgia (other than post-herpetic neuralgia) can be difficult to diagnose. You may need to give a history and description of your pain, and undergo both clinical and experimental examinations. This condition can also be more difficult to treat than many other types of pain as it does not usually respond very well to normal pain medications.
Your neurologist will typically seek to locate the damaged nerve by conducting a number of different tests in which the peripheral nerve is stimulated. This will help them to make a recommendation on the best course of treatment.
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You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will discuss with you if they feel any further diagnostic tests are needed, such as an EMG test or a nerve conduction test, or if there are any other treatment pathways to consider.
There are many treatment approaches for the various forms of neuralgia and we will discuss the options with you.
Neuralgias may be treated by:
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The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.