Different Forms and Causes of Neuropathic Pain

Different Forms and Causes of Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain is often used as a generic term to describe a painful condition that has been caused or arises from some kind of lesion, trauma or dysfunction within the nervous system.

But in fact there are several types of neuropathic pain, which do vary, but all of which share the common characteristics that they are neuropathic in nature, with a pain that is intense and feels like burning.

Neuropathic pain can often be difficult to treat simply because it is resistant to NSAIDs which are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs.

PHN: Postherpetic Neuralgia

PHN is a painful condition that results after a person has had shingles, which is referred to as the varicella zoster virus. Up to 20% of all people who have had shingles can go on to experience this condition after shingles and it can last for a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years. It is more common in elderly people or people who have a suppressed immune system.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that is caused, as the name suggests, by diabetes and is thought to result when glucose levels have been consistently high, combined with other factors. There are often very sharp, intense, shooting pains experienced and these can often be much more intense at night and the feet are most likely to be affected by this condition.

Phantom Limb Pain

Phantom limb pain is experienced after a limb has been amputated. Although the nerves are not actually there any more, the part of the brain that used to receive signals from the limb senses that something is wrong and translates this into a pain signal. Since the limb has been removed, the experience of phantom limb pain can be extremely distressing for those experiencing it.


Cancer can result in patients experiencing neuropathic pain. Sometimes it is due to the tumour causing the pain, or it could be induced by the treatment. Again, it can often be quite distressing for patients who are already experiencing a very difficult and potentially life threatening condition.


Around 30% or so of people who are HIV+ will go on to develop a condition known as distal sensory polyneuropathy, which is shortened to DSP. Different people experience it in different ways, but it can range from a very mild sensation of tingling to quite significant levels of pain.

Other Causes of Neuropathic Pain

MS or multiple sclerosis can also cause neuropathic pain to be felt within different parts of the body. People who have had a stroke can also experience it as a chronic, i.e. long term condition.

There are also other causes of NP, such as an injury which results in the pain being felt or even, in some cases it can be induced by long term abuse of drugs.

In fact the different types of neuropathic pain and the different causes result in the problem of neuropathic pain being much more widespread than people think. Few of us know no-one who has not experienced this exceptionally painful, debilitating and ultimately very frustrating condition.