Nerve Pain vs. Nerve Damage


Nerve pain, or neuropathic pain, is often described as burning, stabbing or shooting. It may also involve numbness or tingling. Nerve pain is most commonly felt in the legs, back, arms, feet and hands. It has various causes, including nerve damage.

What causes nerve damage?

Nerve damage has various causes, including diabetes, autoimmune diseases, infections, and injuries. Damage can occur to just one nerve or multiple nerves.

What causes nerve pain?

Nerve pain also has various causes. One of the most common causes is nerve compression. For example, nerves in the neck or back can become pinched, which causes pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome involves compression of nerves at the elbow or wrist. Tumors can also compress nerves.

Another cause of nerve pain is nerve damage. Damage can occur to sensory nerves (which transmit pain signals and other sensations), motor nerves (which control muscle movement), or autonomic nerves (which regulate bodily functions such as breathing and digestion).

Can nerve damage occur without nerve pain?

Some types of nerve damage do not cause nerve pain. For example, autonomic nerve damage may cause symptoms other than pain, such as excessive sweating, heat intolerance, constipation, or bladder dysfunction. Damage to motor nerves may cause muscle weakness or atrophy more so than pain.

Can nerve pain occur without nerve damage?

Nerve pain can occur without nerve damage. For example, idiopathic nerve pain and temporary paresthesia are not caused by nerve damage. Idiopathic nerve pain is nerve pain without an identifiable cause. Temporary paresthesia is short-term nerve pain that results from temporary pressure on a nerve or poor circulation. The pain goes away when the pressure is relieved or circulation is restored.

Can nerve pain be reversed?

Nerve pain can sometimes be reversed. For example, individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome can wear a wrist splint that prevents compression of the nerves and stops or prevents pain. Nerve pain related to a vitamin deficiency may be reversed through improved diet and vitamin supplementation.

Can nerve damage be reversed?

Nerve damage is not always reversible. Some nerves have limited capacity to regenerate after they are damaged, so the goal is to stop the progression of damage and treat the symptoms, including nerve pain.