Nerve pain, burning due to inflammation and damage and other common causes

Nerve pain, burning due to inflammation and damage and other common causes
Photo source: Getty images

Neuralgia, or nerve pain, is commonly occurs with colds, overexertion or rapid movement. This pain in the form of lumbago is familiar to many people. Another cause can be inflammation, but also various other neurological diseases. Neuropathy, alcoholism, diabetes, tumor. Nerve pain also occurs after injuries.

Nerve pain can be related to a disruption of their structure. This happens due to various injuries, mostly skin injury, or in other part of the body with specific nerve endings.

Neuralgia, or nerve pain, is also related to problems and diseases of the nervous system.

Nerve fibers are located almost all over the body.

That is why it is sometimes very difficult to recognise whether the pain is conditioned by another factor, i.e. secondary or primary nerve pain.

Nerve pain due to injury

In the event of an injury or open wound to any part of the skin, the mucous membrane or an organ with lots of nerves the nerve function will be disrupted.

The irritation sends a signal to the brain and the person feels pain.

In this case, the pain is triggered by an external factor and the nerves only mediate this signal to the central nervous system. It is therefore not a disease of the nerve.

Man, fingers, vegetables, knife, cutting board. Risk of injury when slicing. Pain sent by nerve fibre in cutting wound.
Intense pain indicating injury due to a cut. Source: Getty Images.

A signal is sent that there has been some disruption of the surface structure where the nerve fibres are.

Of course, with a more serious injury, nerve fibre disruption can also occur.

Diseases of the nerves

Nerve pain is also called neuralgia. It is a disease of the nerves involving different types or kinds of nerves. There are several different neuralgias.

Trigeminal neuralgia: when the face, tongue, teeth hurt

Trigeminal neuralgia is very common. Nervus trigeminus, or the trigeminal nerve, is a cranial nerve. It is also called the fifth cranial nerve, cranial nerve V, or simply CN V.

This nerve innervates the whole face, the oral cavity, the palate, the teeth, the nasal cavity, also the orbit of the eye, part of the ear, and the dura mater, i.e. or a brain membrane.

The disease of this nerve is manifested by pain in the facial nerves and around the eye or the ear, i.e. the whole area of its innervation.

A woman has trigeminal nerve pain in the face, eye, temple, cheek, ear
Pain in the area of innervation of the trigeminal nerve. Source: Getty Images.

Usually the pain is present across half of the face, it lasts for a very short time, but it is very intense and severe.

It commonly occurs after the age of 40.

Pain usually provokes irritation of the trigger point. The provocation may be caused by chewing, talking, stimulation by a certain temperature, i.e. cold or heat, but also when brushing the teeth.

The onset of pain is seasonal, especially in spring and autumn.

The pain is also manifested as toothache. It is well-known that during toothache, the triangular area between tooth, face, eye and ear also hurts.

Other causes of pain

Many times the nerves hurt even in the teeth. In this case, it is an inflammation of the nerve cavity of the tooth. Inflammatory nerve diseases, various infections and the like are a very common cause of nerve pain. This pain is a symptom that something is wrong with the nerve.

A disease that is associated with inflammation of the nerves is called neuritis. It is caused by irritation of a nerve. The cause of the disease can be an injury, prolonged pressure on the nerve, or even the presence of toxic substances.

For example, the optic nerve, the aforementioned trigeminal nerve, the sciatic nerve or other nerves in the body may be inflamed. This inflammatory disease manifests itself mainly by intense pain at the site.

Sciatic nerve model, sciatic nerve, sciatic nerve pain, sciatica.
Sciatica, or pain of the sciatic nerve. Photo: Getty Images

For example, in sciatic nerve pain, otherwise known as sciatica, the spinal roots are irritated. That is when sciatic nerve pain is present. Depending on the severity, the pain also radiates to the lower limb and manifests as pain in the back of the thigh, in the shin and as nerve pain in the leg.

There are also some autoimmune diseases. These cause the body to attack its own nervous system. However, these are very rare diseases.

Peripheral nerve disease, or neuropathy, also manifests in pain. Root nerve pain has a sharp character and can also be caused by too much physical activity.

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A well-known example is, for example, a dislocated or damaged intervertebral disc. The pain is caused by the oppression of the nerve by this disc. There is mechanical damage or pressure on the nerve.

An example is lifting a heavy object, a sudden movement or a cold. The occurrence of this intense pain in the area of the neck and sacrum is also called lumbago.

In lumbago there is no radiation of pain as in sciatic root irritation, i.e. in sciatica. The cause of lumbago is the muscles or tendons, not the nerve disease. However, the pain may still shoot into the lower limb.

Skin infection on the right upper limb in herpes zoster, nerve pain in the area is also present.
Inflammation of the skin due to herpes zoster. Source: Getty Images.

Some other causes of nerve pain:

  • neuropathies, e.g. in diabetes, thyroid disease, tumours, injuries, after a stroke, alcoholism
  • for damage to soft structures, such as pain from cervical spine from muscle strain or muscle overload
  • age and degenerative changes 
  • damage to the intervertebral disc, i.e. disc herniation
  • spondylolisthesis, occurs when the vertebrae are displaced
  • spondylosis, is a degenerative disease
  • osteoporosis
  • herpes zoster with skin changes
  • tumour
  • multiple sclerosis, trigeminal neuralgia
  • phantom pain is pain after a limb amputation

There are different types of nerve pain. However, none of them should be underestimated.

Neuralgia - What is nerve pain (neuralgia) and how do you cope with it?

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Interesting resources

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