New Frontiers in Neuropathic Pain
The various neuropathic pains can be difficult to treat. However, with careful diagnosis and often a combination of methods of treatments, there is an excellent chance of improving the pain and return of function.
Medications are a mainstay of treatment of neuropathic pain. In general, they work by influencing how pain information is handled by the body. Most pain information is filtered out by the central nervous system, usually at the level of the spinal cord. For example, if you are sitting in a chair, your peripheral nerves send the response to the pressure between your body and the chair to your nervous system. However, because that information serves no usual purpose, it is filtered out in the spinal cord. Many medications to treat neuropathic pain operate on this filtering process. The types of medications used for neuropathic pain include antidepressants, which influence the amount of serotonin or norepinephrine, and antiseizure medications, which act on various neurotransmitters, such as GABA and glycine.
One of the most powerful tools in treating neuropathic pain is the spinal cord stimulator, which delivers tiny amounts of electrical energy directly onto the spine. Stimulation works by interrupting inappropriate pain information being sent up to the brain. It also creates a tingling in the pain extremity, which masks pain.