9 Common Causes of Nerve Pain


Nerve pain, or neuropathic pain, can be caused by a host of health issues. It is usually related to damage to or compression of nerves in the body.

Some of the most common causes of nerve pain include the following:

  • Disease
    Various health conditions can damage nerves in the body, which can lead to nerve pain. These conditions include diabetes, cancer, and certain autoimmune diseases.
  • Infection
    In some cases, viral infections can trigger nerve pain. Examples include shingles, syphilis, hepatitis C, and HIV.
  • Injury or trauma
    Injuries to the muscles, joints or spine can cause nerve damage and lingering pain even after the injury has healed. Nerve damage can also occur during surgery.
  • Drugs
    Nerve pain is a potential side effect of certain drugs used to treat seizures, high blood pressure, or infections. Several chemotherapy drugs are known to cause chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, which involves nerve damage and potential nerve pain.
  • Radiation
    Radiation treatment can cause radiation-induced peripheral neuropathy, which involves nerve damage and potential nerve pain.
  • Alcohol
    Alcohol use can have a toxic effect on the nerves in the body. Long-term, heavy alcohol use can lead to alcoholic neuropathy.
  • Toxic substances
    Excessive exposure to heavy metals, such as lead, or other substances, such as glue or mercury, can damage nerves in the body.
  • Limb loss
    After an arm or leg is amputated, nerves near the site of amputation can misfire and send pain signals to the brain. This is known as phantom limb pain.
  • Pressure or compression
    Nerve compression can cause nerve pain. Examples of medical conditions that involve nerve compression include carpal tunnel syndrome and spinal stenosis. External factors (e.g, an improperly fitting cast/splint, the use of crutches, etc.) can also compress the nerves.

Identifying the cause of an individual’s nerve pain helps medical professionals determine the best course of treatment to eliminate or reduce the pain.

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