Vulvodynia is one of the most severe forms of nerve or neuropathic pain. Women suffering from vulvodynia may experience sharp, burning or electric shock-like pain that can occur around the vulva, labia or entrance to the vagina.
Researchers generally agree that nerve injury or irritation is prevalent in most cases. The pudendal nerve is the main nerve that runs through this area, so more advanced treatment for nerve pain is targeted here.
The anti-neuropathic medication used to relieve nerve pain can be split into two groups, antidepressants and anticonvulsants.
The tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline is used to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. People with chronic pain conditions often have decreased levels of serotonin – a calming neurotransmitter. Amitriptyline can relax painful muscles and heighten the effects of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers
Anticonvulsants, usually prescribed to treat epilepsy, are sometimes used in conjunction with tricyclic antidepressants. These anticonvulsants affect the chemicals in the brain that send signals across the nervous system. Certain anticonvulsants also provide relief for nerve pain patients, since both seizures and pain involve abnormally increased firing of nerve cells. Some of the commonly used medications are Pregabalin, Gabapentin and Carbamazepine.
When combined with anti-neuropathic medication, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown to significantly increase their pain-relieving effects. Common forms of NSAIDs, available over the counter, are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen..
Opioids are morphine like drugs, typically defined as strong pain medications prescribed for all types of pain. Examples of opioids include Oxycodone, Buprenorphine, Morphine, Tramadol and Methadone. Studies have shown that opioids may effectively treat vulvodynia without the cognitive side effects associated with anti-neuropathic medication.