Neuralgia is sharp, shocking nerve pain that follows the path of a nerve. It happens when a nerve is irritated or damaged. The pain moves along nerve pathways and may be acute, chronic, mild or severe. Some types of neuralgia include postherpetic neuralgia, such as with shingles; trigeminal neuralgia, or stabbing face pain; and occipital neuralgia, spinal nerve pain that causes pain on one side of the scalp. Neuralgia may cause burning pain, increased skin sensitivity and weakness or paralysis of the muscles linked to the affected nerve. Neuralgia also may be caused by chemical irritation, kidney problems, diabetes, infections, certain medications, and trauma, as well as pressure on nerves from bones, ligaments, blood vessels or tumors.

Neuralgia is more common among the elderly, but it can occur at any age, and the cause is often unknown. Treatments offer varying results depending on the cause, location, and severity of the pain. These include medications delivered through pain patches and nerve blocks. In some cases, surgery will be done to take pressure off a nerve. In other cases the condition may improve on its own or disappear altogether with time.

The UAB Neurology and Neurosurgery program provides specialized evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the body’s central nervous, peripheral nervous, and muscle systems. UAB’s internationally known neurologists and neurosurgeons address the most complex problems within their specialty, in both adults and children, with an effective combination of compassion and the most advanced technology available.

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