Nerve pain or neuralgia and what to do

Nerve pain or neuralgia is so severe in some people that it strongly affects daily life. Nerve pain or neuralgia is a pain that generally occurs in attacks as shooting pains in the area of a sensory nerve. The pain is usually caused by damaged nerves, but can also occur if a nerve is pinched. There are various treatments for nerve pain or neuralgia, but treatment sometimes seems like detective work.

Caused by inflammation or pressure on nerve

A nerve consists of a number of fibers that send signals to the brain and from the brain to all parts of the body. Because nerves carry signals to the brain, they can also send pain signals to the brain. Each nerve is linked to a specific part of the body, which means that nerve pain can occur in different parts of the body. However, most common nerve pain is in part of the face or in the arms, legs or back. In the majority of cases, nerve pain is caused by inflammation, but the cause, as with a hernia, can also be pressure on the nerve from the vertebrae.

Do not continue with nerve pain or neuralgia

With chronic nerve pain it is important to face reality and then it is good to learn to deal with it. But help is needed. You should not continue walking with chronic nerve pain. Go to a doctor in the first instance. Try to keep as clear a story as possible about the pain and where it is located and when it gets worse or becomes more bearable. Nerve damage almost never heals on its own and can cause long-term pain. Treatment prescribed by a GP must therefore be followed for a long time and in some cases even for life.

Determining the right location is difficult

However, determining the correct location of the pain is difficult because the pain can be felt in a location other than the location of the damage. For example, with a hernia in the back, the pain can also be felt in the buttock or leg and even in the foot because the nerve also leads there.

Referral to specialist

Sometimes, after an examination and based on your story, a GP will refer you to, for example, a neurologist, internist, orthopedic surgeon or a pain specialist. This depends entirely on the type of nerve pain and the severity of the complaints.

Seeking treatment is sometimes detective work

But unfortunately it happens that nerve pain never goes away completely. The pain can be reduced as much as possible in all cases, for which there are various treatments. However, treatment does not work the same for everyone. What benefits one person may hardly help another. For the person combating the pain, it is sometimes a long search to find the right treatment, which actually seems like a kind of detective work. Also, a treatment that is good in itself is not always effective in such a way that results are achieved immediately.

Different treatments for nerve pain

Various treatments are possible for nerve pain, such as:


Many sufferers of nerve pain benefit from acupuncture treatments.

Exercise therapy

With nerve pain it is good to keep moving and keep the muscles in good condition. This way you can prevent the pain from getting worse.


In physiotherapy, the treatment can mainly be aimed at functioning as best as possible despite the pain.

Talk therapy

One way to learn to deal with nerve pain is talk therapy. By talking about the pain and the influence of the pain on daily life, the complaints can be reduced.


Medication can be used to increase the tolerability of nerve pain.

Relaxation techniques

Tension generally increases pain, which can be counteracted with relaxation techniques such as yoga.

Transcutaneous Electrical NeuroStimulation

Using a small device called Transcutaneous Electrical NeuroStimulation (TENS), electrical impulses can be delivered to slow down the nerves that deliver the pain signals. Such a device can be used by patients at home.

Heat treatment

Heat treatments can have a soothing effect.

Nerve block or nerve anesthesia

Sometimes the nerve can be blocked or numbed so that pain signals can no longer be transmitted to the brain. This is done by injecting an anesthetic or painkilling substance into the nerve

Nerve surgery

The nerve pain may be caused by a growth pressing on the nerve. In that case it is sometimes possible to remove it surgically.

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