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Nerve pain

Nerve pain or ‘neuralgia’ as it is medically known describes the pain felt along the path of a nerve through damage, compression or ‘entrapment’

There are many types of nerve pain as our body is largely controlled by the nervous system. Many people will have at some time experienced nerve pain themselves, all be it a temporary entrapment such as a ‘dead leg’ from a blunt trauma or a ‘dead arm’ from sleeping awkwardly.

Nerve pain arises from either the cranial nerves (such as trigeminal neuralgia) the exiting nerve roots from the spinal cord (usually named at the level it exits,) or peripheral nerve root entrapment (carpel tunnel, sciatica.)Research has proven that osteopathy is effective in the treatment of nerve pain, however nerve pain that is caused by systemic illness’ should be discussed with the consulting osteopath prior to making an appointment.


Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy in the UK. Nerve pain can also be caused by other health conditions and certain medications, although in some cases no cause is identified.


Neuropathy caused by diabetes is called diabetic polyneuropathy. It’s estimated around 60% of people with diabetes are susceptible to peripheral neuropathy and up to one in every four people with the condition have experienced some pain caused by nerve damage.Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, and becomes more likely the longer you have had diabetes.If you have diabetes, your risk of polyneuropathy is higher if your blood sugar is poorly controlled

or you:
Have high blood pressure (hypertension)
Regularly consume large amounts of alcohol
Are over 40 years old

It’s thought diabetes leads to peripheral neuropathy because the high levels of glucose in your blood damage the blood vessels that supply your nerves.

If you have diabetes, your feet will usually be examined at least once a year to check for ulcers (open wounds or sores) as well as signs of possible nerve damage, such as reduced sensation.

Other causes

As well as diabetes, there are many other possible causes of peripheral neuropathy. If no cause is found, it is called an idiopathic neuropathy.

Health conditions

  • Some of the health conditions that can cause peripheral neuropathy include:
  • Excessive alcohol drinking for years
  • Low levels of vitamin B12 or other vitamins
  • Physical damage to the nerves, such as from an injury or during surgery
  • An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
  • Certain infections, such as shingles, Lyme disease, diphtheria, botulism and HIV
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis)
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) – the presence of an abnormal protein in the blood
  • Certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system) and multiple myeloma ( a type of bone marrow cancer)
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease and other types of hereditary motor sensory neuropathy – genetic conditions that cause nerve damage, particularly in the feet.
  • Having high levels of toxins in your body, such as arsenic, lead or mercury.
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome – a rare condition that causes rapid onset of paralysis within days.
  • Amyloidosis – a group of rare but serious conditions caused by deposits of abnormal protein called amyloid in tissues and organs throughout the body.

Conditions caused by overactivity of the immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome.

During your consultation a detailed medical case history will be taken and suitable advise given if your Osteopath determines that no treatment options are available, which will usually require the Osteopath to liaise with your GP, or recommend a referral to another medical specialist.

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