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Understanding Nerve Pain: Finding Relief Without Strong Pain Medication

Nerve pain, also called neuropathic pain, arises from various conditions such as diabetes, infections, or injuries, which affect the nervous system's function. This type of pain is distinct from typical pain caused by cuts or bruises, as it involves abnormalities in how nerves transmit signals to the brain.

Overall, nerve pain can stem from a wide range of conditions. Many diseases or injuries can affect the nervous system, highlighting the diverse nature of neuropathic pain and the importance of tailored treatment approaches.

What Causes Nerve Pain?

Nerve or neuropathic pain can arise from various conditions affecting the nervous system. One common cause is diabetes, which can lead to diabetic neuropathy, causing tingling, numbness, or burning sensations in the hands and feet. 

Conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) can also result in nerve pain, as the immune system attacks the protective covering of nerves, disrupting their ability to transmit signals properly. Additionally, acute or chronic pain from injuries, such as spinal cord injuries or nerve compression syndromes like carpal tunnel syndrome, can lead to neuropathic pain. These injuries can damage nerves directly or cause inflammation and pressure on nerves, resulting in persistent pain sensations.

Why Strong Pain Pills (Like Opioids) Might Not Help

Strong pain medications like opioids often provide limited relief for nerve pain due to its complex nature, according to research. Neuropathic pain involves abnormal nerve signaling that opioids may not effectively address. 

Opioids, as solid painkillers, aren't the best for nerve pain because they don't fix the problem with how nerves send pain signals. Nerve pain differs from regular pain because it comes from nerve issues, not just injuries. 

While opioids might help with normal pain, they often don't work well for nerve pain and can even make it worse over time. Using opioids for a long time can also lead to needing more and more of the medicine to get the same relief, which can be dangerous. Prolonged opioid use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and potential adverse effects like liver damage. They can also be highly addictive. 

Other Ways to Ease Nerve Pain

Nerve pain, often stemming from diverse causes like injury, disease, or compression, can vary significantly in its intensity and response to treatment. Utilizing multiple approaches ensures a holistic approach to pain management tailored to the individual's needs. 

Combining treatments such as medication, physical therapy, nerve blocks, acupuncture, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can offer synergistic benefits. Medications like anticonvulsants or antidepressants may help modulate nerve signals and alleviate symptoms. 

Nerve Blocks and PT

Nerve blocks are injections of local anesthetic or corticosteroids that block pain signals along specific nerves. Depending on the pain's location, nerve blocks can target various types of nerve pain, including neuropathic pain, targeting peripheral, epidural, sympathetic, or facet joints. By temporarily disrupting pain transmission, nerve blocks offer relief for hours to weeks.

When combined with physical therapy, nerve blocks enhance pain management. Physical therapy helps people improve mobility, strength, and function while reducing pain through exercises and stretches. Nerve blocks provide temporary relief, assisting patients in engaging effectively in therapy and making progress in building strength.

Like many treatments, nerve blocks don't work best when used as a pain reliever. They are part of a broader pain management strategy, potentially accompanied by medication, acupuncture, or cognitive-behavioral therapy. They're not permanent solutions and may require periodic repetition. Due to potential risks and side effects, nerve blocks occur under a healthcare professional's care.

Different Types of Pills

Doctors commonly use antidepressants and anticonvulsants to alleviate nerve pain by modulating nerve signals. These medications, such as amitriptyline and gabapentin, have shown effectiveness in managing neuropathic pain symptoms.

Creams and Patches

Topical treatments containing agents like lidocaine, medical ketamine, or capsaicin can provide localized relief for nerve pain when applied to the affected area. These products numb the nerves or alter their sensitivity to pain signals.

Special Nerve Pain Medications

Medications specifically designed to target nerve pain, such as pregabalin and duloxetine, offer alternative treatment options. These drugs act on nerve pathways to reduce pain signaling and improve symptoms associated with neuropathic pain conditions.


Buprenorphine, a drug traditionally used in Medication-Assisted Treatment for opioid use disorder, is another medication that can help with nerve pain. It works differently from traditional opioids, so it's less likely to cause problems like addiction or needing more and more medicine over time. Buprenorphine can offer relief for nerve pain while reducing the risks associated with more potent opioids.

Research shows that buprenorphine has a good safety profile and is effective at relieving nerve pain caused by cancer or chemotherapy.


Ketamine, originally used as a potent anesthetic, has shown promise in treating neuropathic pain. It blocks specific brain and spinal cord receptors, which can help reduce pain signals. Ketamine can provide fast and effective pain relief, primarily when other treatments haven't worked well.

Getting Help for Nerve Pain

Dealing with nerve pain can be challenging, especially because regular pain pills might not always do the trick. But there are other options available. Medicines like antidepressants, buprenorphine, and ketamine can offer relief without some of the risks of more potent opioids. It's all about finding the best treatment for you and your unique pain.

Contact us to learn more about our pain clinic and how we can help.

If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.



Contact Solas Health

Our mission is to improve lives and help you get better.

Addiction, pain, and mental health challenges interfere with the joys of living, but we can help. Dr. Corrigan, and the whole team at Solas Health, will help.

If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.

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