Neuropathic pain is a common complaint, affecting 1 in every 10 adults over the age of 30 per the National Institute of Health. What most—doctors and patients—fail to understand is that neuropathic pain has more problems than just the pain alone. “Neuropathic pain is associated with multidimensional suffering: physical, emotional, cognitive, and social” (Hainline, 2011). What this means to you, the reader, who may be suffering from a neuropathic pain problem, (peripheral neuropathy, CRPS, trigeminal Neuralgia, shingles, etc) is that treating only the pain may not be effective as a solo treatment.
A question often is asked is why do we get these types of pains? We do know why some patients are affected by this pain. This could be as a result of radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer. It can also be a result of autoimmune disorders, diabetes, shingles, or direct trauma to the nerves themselves. There are also a lot of patients that do not have an identifiable reason as to why they developed this condition. We do know that neuropathic pain is complex and, in some cases, acute pain can transform into neuropathic pain within hours or days.
Neuropathic pain has more issues than the pain alone—anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders are also frequently involved. We need a treatment that going to cover these problems in a multidisciplinary manner. Seeing a therapist can help with the anxiety and depression component. It DOES NOT mean that your pain is all in your head. Helping with your sleep will allow your body to start healing itself and give more energy. Any treatment done with a focus solely on one aspect will likely fail. If any of this applies to you or a loved one, I encourage you and/or them to seek guidance from their family physician.
Hainline, B. (2011). Neuropathic Pain: Neuropsychiatric, Diagnostic, and Management Considerations. In S. Waldman, Pain Management (p. 202). Elsevier Inc.