How does neuropathic pain feel like?

Chronic pain (Nerve pain, neuralgia, neuropathy)

We all know pain. They are the "alarm system" of our body. Acute pain warns us of actual or threatened tissue damage such as injuries, inflammation or a hot stove and triggers a corresponding reaction, e.g. pulling the hand away quickly or protecting a sprained ankle. Pain sensors, also called nociceptors, are found all over the body. They conduct the pain stimulus as an "electrical signal" via the nerves into the spinal cord and from there to the brain, where it is ultimately perceived as pain.

The acute pain usually has a clear cause and is therefore usually relatively easy to treat. If the cause is eliminated, the acute pain will soon be "forgotten" again.

If acute pain is not treated in time or inadequately, it can detach itself from the actual cause and take on a life of its own. Often there is no longer any concrete cause that would explain the pain. The doctor speaks of this form of pain that lasts for months or years, chronic pain or chronic pain syndrome. Chronic pain has mostly lost its originally useful warning function and is nothing more than torture for the person concerned, which leads to further physical and emotional complications and severely restricts the quality of life. Family problems, social isolation, job loss or, in the worst case, disability can be the result. In addition, chronic pain medication consumption can lead to drug addiction. It is therefore important to consult a doctor early on in the event of persistent or recurring pain so that chronic pain does not arise in the first place.

Chronification of pain

The so-called "pain memory" plays an important role in the pain becoming chronic. Through the sustained or repeated pain stimuli, the pain sensors and the pain-conducting nerves "learn" - similar to memory formation - to react faster and more precisely and become more sensitive: even relatively weak stimuli (e.g. touch or warmth) can then trigger pain or become a slight pain stimulus felt excessively strong. Eventually the pain occurs even if there is no longer any cause - a "pain memory" has developed.

The perception of pain is something very subjective

Pain is perceived differently from person to person - both in terms of pain intensity and appearance. What is already unbearable for one person is felt by the other as still bearable. The pain intensity can range from mild to severe, excruciating or even unbearable. We use many terms to describe pain: pressing, stabbing, piercing, dull, cutting, electrifying and much more. This shows that the perception of pain is very complex, as are the causes of pain.