Are you wondering what does nerve pain feel like? If yes, you should check out this complete guide on peripheral neuropathy.
Most people have experienced a pins and needles sensation if their foot has fallen asleep. It’s unpleasant, but it goes away with time.
Now imagine feeling that sensation all the time, but worse.
This is one of the many experiences of patients with peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage. For some, it can be just as persistent and unpleasant as chronic pain.
We tell you this because asking, “What does nerve pain feel like?” is actually a complicated question. Nerve pain for one person may be completely different from someone else. To understand why, and what it might feel like, let’s take a closer look at the mechanics of peripheral neuropathy.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a form of damage to the nervous system, specifically the peripheral nervous system. For those who are rusty on biology, the peripheral nervous system contains all nerves not encompassed by the central nervous system (i.e. everything that’s not the brain and spinal cord).
The brain and spine are what most people think of when they think of the nervous system, but the truth is, your brain and spine rely on your peripheral nervous system. Without peripheral nerves, your brain and spinal cord cannot send and receive information to the rest of the body.
Peripheral neuropathy is the result of nerve damage, typically resulting from traumatic injuries, metabolic issues, toxin exposure, and genetics. In fact, diabetes is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy.
Types of Peripheral Neuropathy
There are several different kinds of peripheral neuropathy resulting from any number of issues. Neuropathies are classified according to either the problems they cause or the root of the nerve damage.
For example, damage to a single nerve is called mononeuropathy. You’ve probably heard of a form of mononeuropathy before: carpal tunnel syndrome, a repetitive stress injury caused by compression of the nerve traveling through the wrist.
However, most neuropathy cases are polyneuropathies, which is when multiple peripheral nerves throughout the body malfunction at the same time. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms of polyneuropathy, though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is one of the most severe.
What Does Nerve Pain Feel Like?
We’re covering a lot of information about peripheral neuropathy because the type of neuropathy you have and the root cause of the damage will dramatically change your experience of nerve pain.
If you have sensory neuropathy, for example, you could experience pain, but you may also be unable to feel pain. You may experience hypersensitivity to touch or pressure, or you may not be able to feel touch or pressure at all. Some people are hypersensitive to heat or cold, while others can’t feel heat or cold.
It might sound like a superpower except for the part where it leads many patients to sustain injuries without even realizing it. Remember, if you can’t feel heat, cold, or pressure, you may not be able to feel that you’ve been injured. You could overexert a muscle or break a bone without knowing it.
You may experience pins and needles, similar to the feeling of a numbed limb waking up again. You could also experience severe burning, stabbing, boring, or shooting pains, which can be even worse at night.
If you have motor neuropathy, which affects the muscles, you may struggle with chronic muscle weakness, leaving you unsteady and struggling to perform simple movements like buttoning a shirt.
Remember: it all depends on the person and the type and severity of their neuropathy.
Taking Control of Your Nerve Pain
What does nerve pain feel like?
The short answer: deeply unpleasant.
The long answer: it depends on the person.
Either way, nerve pain should not have the power to control your life. Even if you have severe nerve pain, you can still adapt and take advantage of the many joys that life has to offer. You just have to be a bit creative.
If you need more tips on nerve pain and living life to the fullest, make sure to check out our blog for more great posts.