A lot of nerves in your body send sensations to your brain, including pain. Though we might not like pain very much, it does have a very important job: it prevents injury. When you start to step on a nail, it’s those pain sensations that lets your brain know about the danger.
This is how it is supposed to work. Though in people that have nerve pain, the messaging system doesn’t work correctly. Your brain get’s a pain signal, you feel the pain, but there is no actual cause of the pain. Now, you just get pain without any purpose — and since there is no cause, there is no quick and easy way to get rid of it.
What makes your nerves act this way? Most likely, it’s damage from a physical injury or a disease.
Cancer and tumors can create nerve pain. As they grow, they can push on the surrounding nerves. Cancers can also grow out of the nerves themselves. Also, treatments for cancer — like chemotherapy drugs — are able to damage the nerves, generating pain.
HIV can create painful nerve damage. Nerve pain affects around 40% of people with HIV, and a lot of times, nerve pain in the hands and feet is the first symptom. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs are able to generate nerve damage that generates pain.
Diabetes is a big cause of nerve damage. Over time, the high levels of glucose (blood sugar) in the blood damage the nerves.
Shingles can create a painful condition called postherpetic neuralgia. This kind of nerve pain can be very severe and sudden.
Physical injuries can result in nerves that get compressed, crushed, or severed.
These are just some of the examples of diseases and conditions that are able to generate nerve damage and nerve pain. Others are repetitive stress, Lyme disease, alcoholism, heart disease, stroke, hormone imbalances, multiple sclerosis, vitamin deficiencies, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and the list could go on. And some times, nerve pain shows up for no apparent reason.