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what is neuropathic pain

Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage or disease affecting the somatosensory nervous system.Neuropathic pain may be associated with abnormal sensations called dysesthesia or pain from normally non-painful stimuli (allodynia). It may have continuous and/or episodic (paroxysmal) components. The latter resemble stabbings or electric shocks. Common qualities include burning or coldness, “pins and needles” sensations, numbness and itching.

Up to 7% to 8% of the European population is affected, and in 5% of persons it may be severe. Neuropathic pain may result from disorders of the peripheral nervous system or the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Thus, neuropathic pain may be divided into peripheral neuropathic pain, central neuropathic pain, or mixed (peripheral and central) neuropathic pain.

Central neuropathic pain is found in spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and some strokes. Aside from diabetes (see diabetic neuropathy) and other metabolic conditions, the common causes of painful peripheral neuropathies are herpes zoster infection, HIV-related neuropathies, nutritional deficiencies, toxins, remote manifestations of malignancies, immune mediated disorders and physical trauma to a nerve trunk.Neuropathic pain is common in cancer as a direct result of cancer on peripheral nerves (e.g., compression by a tumor), or as a side effect of chemotherapy (chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy),radiation injury or surgery.