Peripheral neuralgia occurs when there is damage to the nerves in the body. Also known as the peripheral nervous system, these nerves transmit information to and from the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Peripheral neuralgia is identified by sharp, stabbing and recurring pain sensations in parts of the body, especially along the damaged nerve. The peripheral nerves can be damaged by a number of factors, including disease (for example: Multiple Sclerosis or Diabetes Mellitus), metabolic problems, surgery, infections, medications, exposure to poisons and traumas.
There are many different forms of peripheral neuralgia. Symptoms depend upon the type of nerves affected and may include feeling acute pain in a specific part of the body, muscle weakness or paralysis, lack of coordination, sensitivity to touch, onset of numbness, or a sharp jabbing or burning pain. Diagnosis of the neuralgia may occur with a physical examination, which will determine where the loss of sensory or motor function has occurred. Electromyography tests (EMG) or nerve conduction tests may also be performed for identification of the neuralgia.
Neuralgia may be difficult to treat. Treatment is varied and often depends on the type and the underlying cause of the damage. Treatment will also focus on pain management. Typical pain relieving medicines are ineffective because the pain sensations occur without a specific trigger to the nerve and may simply result due to compression, illness, or injury. Medications, such as gabapentin and anti-seizure medications, are often prescribed. Other potential treatment options include physical therapy. Surgery is used when the conservative methods of treatment have been found to be ineffective.