As we age, our bodies rebel against the march of time in some very painful ways. Well-worn joints develop arthritis. Spicy foods we once ate with zeal now scare us off with the risk of acid reflux. And a lifetime spent on our feet can give us a nasty case of plantar fasciitis. Some of us may even experience cases of neuralgia, or localized nerve pain, which seems to carry all the pain of a hot steel knife as it travels along a nerve. This condition is deeply uncomfortable, and the most painful forms of neuralgia can drastically alter your routine and diminish your quality of life. Look out for these specific types of nerve pain.
This attack of searing pain in the trigeminal nerve has earned a ghastly nickname: “the suicide disease.” It causes unbearable pain that drives its sufferers to the brink. Often mistaken for temporomandibular jaw dysfunction or even a particularly severe toothache, trigeminal neuralgia often occurs as a result of pressure on the trigeminal nerve but can also be idiopathic in nature, in which it causes sporadic but excruciating attacks of facial and jaw pain. Because of the extent to which the pain and the fear of triggering further attacks can encroach upon daily life, treating the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, whether by medication, surgery, or other means, is a necessity.
Also fearsome in its own right is this aftermath of a herpes outbreak. After the blisters subside, some patients experience painfully heightened sensitivity long after the infection has passed. This hypersensitivity is so acute and the pain so unbearable that even incidental contact with clothing can elicit severe pain. There is no cure for postherpetic neuralgia. What you can do, however, is begin a course of antiviral treatment as soon as you develop signs of shingles. By intercepting the virus as early as possible, you can mitigate some of its lasting effects.
Acting as a counterpart to trigeminal neuralgia is occipital neuralgia. While pain from the trigeminal nerve emanates through the face and jaw, the occipital nerves, which run up the back of the cranium, cause pain throughout the scalp and behind the ears. Pain in this region is familiar to many people, and indeed, occipital neuralgia often goes misdiagnosed as migraines or cluster headaches, which cause pain similar in both severity and location. However, what seems like a mere headache could also be this painful form of neuralgia, which requires an altogether separate course of treatment involving surgical intervention or nerve-blocking injections.