Nerve Pain and Back Pain
Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is pain experienced in the body in the absence of tissue damage to structures such as the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
In a sense, all the pain that we experience in our body is nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain. We experience pain because an area of tissue damage has occurred in our body. In the human body, there are 31 pairs of nerve roots that exit the spine. These 31 nerve roots than branch several times, and they continue to filter throughout every major organ tissue of the body, to the point that nearly every cell is near one. These nerve fibers may react to an injury or degenerative disease in the body, from one of the main structures of the musculoskeletal system. These tissues may include the muscles, tendons, ligaments, intervertebral discs, and joint cartilage. If There is damage to one or more of these tissues, the nerve fibers in that area will react by sending pain signals to the spinal cord, and then up the spinal cord to the brain. Normally, these nerve fibers will continue to send pain signals to the brain until the tissue injury has healed.
Neuropathic pain is nerve pain. This type of pain occurs when there is no sign of the original injury, yet the nerves continue to send messages to the brain about tissue damage. In this condition, damaged nerves misfire and send incorrect signals to other pain centers, changing nerve function at the site of injury or nearby areas. The original injury set up a pathway in the nervous system and sends a pain signal even though there is no tissue damage. Your brain is triggered to feel pain, even though the pain point or cause is impossible to locate. This may happen because of a neurological problem, such as damage to the nerves themselves, which may occur due to diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Diabetes.
Neuropathic pain may account for the reason that back surgery has such a low long term success rate. Often, follow-up medical testing to back surgeries, as evidenced in medical imaging such as X-Rays and MRI, indicates that the surgery was a success. The medical images indicate that the surgery was a success, and that the tissues causing the pain were either repaired or removed. Yet the patient continues to experience pain despite the medical tests indicating that the body has been repaired.
Neuropathic pain may actually be caused by back surgery, in the event that the spinal nerves near the surgical site have become damaged, due to the buildup of scar tissue or other surgical complications. Other causes of neuropathic pain may be shingles, multiple sclerosis, HIV infection, chemotherapy, and amputation. This is the cause of phantom limb pain, in which patient experience what feels like pain in limbs that are no longer there. Neuropathic pain associated with amputations does not respond well to treatment and are often only helped by analgesic pain medications.
Many patients with chronic back pain do not respond well to treatments such as physical therapy and surgery because of how complex the problem is. One needs to consider the changes that occur in our minds and in particular our bodies as our body tries to cope with chronic conditions. For example, if you have pain in your left knee, you will probably begin walking to favor your right leg. This causes a strengthening of the muscles in the right leg and an atrophy of the muscles in your left leg. Though surgery may eventually treat the tissues injured in the left knee, and physical therapy may help to restore the muscle balance, in some cases, the changes in the body can never be fully restored.
Identifying the pain generator: The most important step in treating chronic back pain is identifying the main pain generator. The pain generator is either the underlying disease causing the back pain, or the structural problem causing the pain.