Neuropathic pain (also called neuropathy, neuralgia, or nerve pain) occurs in about 7 - 10% of adults over age 30.
'Neuropathy affects people of all ages; however, older people are at increased risk. It is more common in men and in Caucasians. People in certain professions, such as those that require repetitive motions, have a greater chance of developing compression-related neuropathy.
Neuropathic pain happens when the nerves don't work properly and send the wrong signals to the brain. It can feel like shooting, stabbing, an electric shock, burning, tingling, tight, numb, prickling, itching or a sensation of pins and needles. The pain can come and go, or be there all the time.
Neuropathic pain is different from pain caused by, for example, a pulled muscle or a sprain. Neuropathic pain can result from diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, shingles, and many other disorders. A common cause is a trapped nerve, for example, in the back or neck. It can also occur after a stroke, after amputation of an arm or a leg, and in people with cancer or multiple sclerosis.
There are many ways of managing neuropathic pain, and drug treatment is just one aspect of that. As well as talking to your doctor about drug treatments that could help, it is important to talk to your doctor about what you can do to help yourself feel better.' (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [UK])
When the cause of the neuropathy cannot be determined, it is called idiopathic neuropathy. About 30 to 40 percent of neuropathy cases are idiopathic. Another 30 percent are the result of diabetes.