neuropathy pain diagnosis

Diagnosis of Neuropathic Pain

A neuropathy pain diagnosis can be caused by a variety of underlying issues. This guide will help you understand the basis of neuropathy and diagnosis.

Table of Contents

What Is Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic nerve pain that is caused by damage or injury to the nervous system. This can include damage to the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves. Neuropathic pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, including diabetes, shingles, cancer, and nerve pain.

Moreover, this chronic nerve pain diagnosis can be tricky because it often mimics other types of nervous system pain, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. There is no one test that can definitively identify neuropathy pain diagnosis. However, your doctor may use a variety of tests and procedures to reach a diagnosis.

What Are Some of the Sources of Neuropathic Pain?

There are many varying sources of neuropathic pain, including:
  • Alcoholism: Alcohol abuse can damage the nervous system, leading to neuropathic pain.
  • Diabetes: One of the most common causes of neuropathic pain diagnosis is diabetes.
  • Facial Nerve Problems: Problems with the facial nerve can lead to neuropathic pain in the face.
  • HIV Infection or AIDS: HIV infection or AIDS can damage the nervous system.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy can damage the nervous system. 
  • Spinal Nerve Compression or Inflammation: Spinal nerve compression or inflammation can cause damage or pain.
  • Trauma or Surgeries with Resulting Nerve Damage: Nerve damage from trauma or surgery can lead to neuropathic pain as well. 2
  • Nerve Compression or Infiltration by Tumors: Patients with tumors that compress or infiltrate nerves can experience nerve pain.
  • Central Nervous System Disorders: Nerve pain disorders of the central nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, can lead to a neuropathy pain diagnosis.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Complex regional pain syndrome is a type of neuropathic pain that often affects the arms or legs.
  • Shingles: Shingles is a viral infection that can cause neuropathic pain.

What Are the Symptoms of Neuropathic Pain?

The symptoms of a neuropathy pain diagnosis can vary depending on the underlying condition. However, common symptoms include:

  • Burning or tingling sensations
  • Numbness
  • Sharp, shooting, or stabbing pain
  • Pain that gets worse at night
  • Pain that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medication 

Types of Neuropathic Pain

There are many different types of neuropathic pain, each with its own unique set of symptoms. Some common types of neuropathic pain will be detailed below.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy affects the peripheral nervous system. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet.

Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system. Symptoms of autonomic neuropathy include lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting.

Focal Neuropathy

Focal neuropathy impacts a specific nerve or group of nerves. The neuropathic pain symptoms of focal neuropathy can vary depending on which nerves are affected.

Proximal Neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy is a type of painful neuropathy that affects the nerves in the thighs, hips, or buttocks. Symptoms of proximal neuropathy include pain, weakness, and numbness in the affected area.  

Thoracic or Lumbar Radiculopathy

Thoracic or lumbar radiculopathy is a type of neuropathic pain that affects the nerves in the thoracic or lumbar spine. Symptoms of thoracic or lumbar radiculopathy include pain, numbness, and tingling in the affected area.  

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of neuropathic pain that is caused by diabetes. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and pain. 3  

Postherpetic Neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia is a type of neurogenic pain that is caused by shingles. Symptoms can include burning, stabbing, and shooting pain.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia affects the trigeminal nerve. Symptoms can include sharp, shooting, and stabbing pain in the affected area.  

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a type of neurogenic pain that often affects the arms or legs. Symptoms can include burning, tingling, and pain.  

Phantom Limb Syndrome

Phantom limb syndrome is a type of neuropathic pain that is caused by the amputation of a limb. Symptoms can include the sensation of pain in the limb that has been amputated.  

Compression Mononeuropathy

Compression mononeuropathy is a type of neuropathic pain that is caused by the compression of a nerve. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and pain. 4

How Is Neuropathic Pain Diagnosed?

There is not one test that can diagnose neuropathic pain, but doctors can use some of the following to help diagnose patients:
    • Review Medical History: A thorough review of your medical history is often the first step in diagnosing neuropathic pain. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and any other health conditions you may have, along with how long you have been experiencing symptoms.
    • Physical Exam: A physical exam can help your doctor to rule out other conditions that may be causing your neuropathic pain symptoms. Your doctor will also check for signs of nerve damage.
    • Blood Tests: Blood tests may be ordered to check for conditions that can cause nerve pain all over the body, such as diabetes.
    • Imaging Tests: Imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scans, can be used to look for signs of nerve damage.
    • Additional Nerve Function Tests: Additional nerve function tests, such as electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction studies, may be ordered to check for severe nerve pain all over your body.

How Is Neuropathic Pain Treated?

There is also not one way to treat neuropathic pain, as it depends on the patient and their symptoms. A few of the common ways to help mitigate pain and treat symptoms are:

neuropathy pain diagnosis

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

Neuropathic pain is often treated with a combination of medication and other therapies. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can be used to help relieve nerve pain.

Prescription Medication

Prescription medication for nerve pain, such as tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants, may also be prescribed.

Antidepressant Drugs

Antidepressant drugs, such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline, can be used to help relieve nerve pain.


Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin or pregabalin, are nerve pain pills that can be used as a neuropathic pain treatment and provide nerve pain relief.

Implantable Device

Implantable devices, such as a spinal cord stimulator, can be used in neuropathic pain treatment for nerve damage.

Physical Therapy

Some patients experience nerve pain relief from neuropathic pain with physical therapy.

Relaxation and Massage Therapy

Relaxation therapy, such as yoga or meditation, can be used to help patients cope with neuropathic pain. Massage therapy can be used to provide nerve pain relief, as it helps to stimulate and relax the affected areas.


Acupuncture has been shown to also be an effective treatment for nerve damage.

Get Help for Neuropathic Pain at J. Flowers Health

If you are looking for neuropathy pain solutions, the team at J. Flowers Health can help. We offer a variety of treatment options that are tailored to each individual patient. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your neuropathic pain.