Neuralgia is a lesion of the branches or trunk of the peripheral nerve, which is the cause of burning acute pain. There are different variations of this disease, differing from each other by the localization of the pathological process and the accompanying symptoms. However, the main feature – acute, cutting, excruciating pain – is characteristic of all varieties of neuralgia. It significantly worsens the patient’s quality of life, so it is necessary to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Neuralgia can develop in patients of any age, including young children. However, it is most often detected in women over 40 years of age.
According to the etiology (nature of origin), neuralgia can be:
- Primary (essential) – occurs as an independent disease, without concomitant disorders.
- Secondary (symptomatic) – develops as a result of other pathological processes (tumors, inflammation), due to which pressure is exerted on the nerve site.
Also, neuralgias are classified according to the localization of the affected nerve:
- sciatic nerve;
- lingopharyngeal nerve;
- krylonebnogo node.
Causes of neuralgia
The causes of the disease depend on the localization of the pathological process.
Facial neuralgia (trigeminal nerve) can develop due to:
- Hypothermia of the face.
- Infections in the head area (sinusitis, caries, etc.).
- Brain tumors.
- Aneurysm (local dilation) of the arteries of the brain.
The causes of occipital nerve neuralgia are:
- Diseases of the joints and spine.
- Hypothermia of the occipital region.
- Tumors on the cervical vertebrae.
- Neck injuries.
Intercostal neuralgia occurs due to:
- Hypothermia and colds.
- Herpes virus.
- Strong physical exertion.
- Wearing tight underwear.
Sciatic nerve damage occurs when:
- Hypothermia of the middle part of the trunk.
- Physical inactivity (sedentary lifestyle).
- Pathologies of the spinal column.
- Inflammatory and infectious diseases of the pelvic organs.
- Lumbar injuries.
- Significant physical exertion of the back.
- Fractures of the femoral and pelvic bones.
Neuralgia of the lingopharyngeal nerve occurs due to:
Violations of metabolic processes.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Infectious diseases.
Trigeminal neuralgia occurs when it is squeezed, inflamed or irritated. The main cause of the development of pathologies of the wing node are infections, and risk factors are stress, sleep disorders, chronic fatigue and regular alcohol abuse.
Neuralgia: symptoms in adults and children
The symptoms also depend on the location of the affected nerve.
Trigeminal neuralgia manifests itself:
- Severe pain in the face area.
- Increased pain during mechanical action (during eating, brushing teeth, shaving).
Occipital neuralgia manifests itself with attacks of pain in the back of the head, behind the ears, and neck area. Manifestations can be bilateral.
With intercostal neuralgia, the patient experiences shingles and a decrease in skin sensitivity in the area of the pathological process.
Signs of sciatic nerve neuralgia:
- Sharp pains in the sacrum and buttock.
- “Goosebumps” in the affected area.
- Burning sensation in the buttocks or lower back.
Pathology of the lingopharyngeal nerve manifests itself:
- Pain in the throat, tonsils and under the tongue.
- Sharp attacks of pain when yawning, coughing, chewing.
- Increased salivation after an attack.
When the wing node is affected, there are bursting burning pains in the eyes, temples, neck, and palate. As a rule, they suddenly occur at night. The attack can last from several hours to several days.
Diagnosis of neuralgia
First, the doctor collects anamnesis and examines the patient. Then, depending on the symptoms, the following studies may be prescribed:
- General and biochemical blood and urine tests.
- Magnetic resonance imaging.
- NMR spectroscopy (diagnostics using nuclear magnetic resonance).
Neuralgia: symptoms and treatment
Treatment of neuralgia can be both conservative and surgical. The operation is performed if the therapy has not given the necessary result.
The complex of medical measures depends on the symptoms of the disease. With secondary neuralgia, the disease that caused its development is eliminated (for example, if it is a consequence of dental pathologies, then you cannot do without their treatment) . Symptomatic therapy is also prescribed, which may include:
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Vitamin B injections.
- Anticonvulsant and sedative medications.
- Physiotherapy: exposure to dynamic currents, electrophoresis.
Also, depending on the localization of the pathological process, moderate physical activity (swimming), bed rest, wearing a corset can be prescribed. With unbearable pain, nerve trunks are blocked with anesthetic drugs.
During pregnancy, neuralgia is considered a rather dangerous condition, since the cause of pain can provoke spontaneous abortion. Therefore, expectant mothers with this disease are hospitalized.
Surgical intervention involves the release of the affected nerve (when it is squeezed by surrounding tissues) or excision of its terminal branch. Such operations give high results and can be performed for patients of any age.
Prevention of neuralgia
Since neuralgia occurs as a result of other diseases or exposure to external factors, in most cases they can be prevented. First of all, it is necessary to treat infections, tumors and other pathologies that can cause the development of peripheral nerve damage in a timely manner.
A healthy lifestyle will also benefit. It is recommended to exclude bad habits (smoking, alcohol consumption), eat right so that the body receives a sufficient amount of valuable substances. It is especially important to monitor the amount of B vitamins. It is necessary to engage in moderate physical activity, avoid physical inactivity. But it is important not to overexert yourself, because too heavy physical exertion can also provoke the development of the disease. The optimal types of physical activity for the prevention of pathology are swimming and exercises that strengthen the spine.
Hypothermia is one of the causes of almost any kind of neuralgia. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid this condition. Prolonged sitting in the same position can also lead to the development of neuralgia. If your work involves sitting or standing for a long time, be sure to take breaks, taking time for physical activity.