What is neuralgia?

The symptoms of neuritis can include numbness, tingling, or the sensation known as pins and needles, muscle weakness and even paralysis. But when neuritis causes pain, the condition is called neuralgia.

Neuralgia, which is essentially pain within a nerve pathway, is generally a symptom of injury or a particular disorder in the body, but in many cases the cause of the pain is not known. While anyone can be affected, it is usually a complaint of older people, and while most bouts of neuralgia are usually temporary and mild, there are some types that are longer lasting and very painful.

Nerve compression is a term used to describe pain. What happens is that inflammation builds up in an affected area - e.g. between two vertebrae as a result of on overloading joint. The tiny muscles, multitidi and rotatores, go into a semi-permanent contraction which limits the movement of the joint and reduces blood flow in the area - reduction in blood flow, not blood supply, causes localised build up of fluid irritating the surrounding nerve endings, and pain ensues - muscular and joint. Pain is therefore a combination of chemical irritation to nerve endings in the area via the blood supply, adverse mechanical strain to the muscles and muscular attachments, and strain to the ligaments.  All muscular and joint pain is a varying combination of these three factors.

A common form of neuralgia is trigeminal neuralgia, which affects the trigeminal nerve in the face. This condition involves sudden, short attacks of severe pain on one side of the face, painful enough to cause a severe grimace, and is sometimes triggered by movements such as chewing, talking, swallowing, or touching a particular area of the face. Trigeminal neuralgia mainly affects people in their sixties and seventies.

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