Paroxysmal pains of stabbing, darting or burning character, occurring along the course of a nerve in which no structural changes could be recognized, even with a microscope, are described as neuralgia. The paroxysms may occur every few minutes or at longer intervals, even many weeks. The pain gradually becomes worse during a paroxysm until it reaches its acme, when as a rule it fades away, but sometimes intolerable pain may last for a long time.
A sensation of tingling or numbness may precede the pain, and sometimes redness or other change in the skin over the affected nerve accompanies it. There are tender spots, usually where the nerve becomes superficial.
Anemia or the presence of poisons in the blood, as in the infectious fevers, malaria, gout, rheumatism or diabetes, creates a liability to neuralgia, but often there is a local source of irritation which might cause neuralgia even without any constitutional disturbance. Carious teeth, eye trouble or disease in the throat, nose or ears, for example, may provoke neuralgia in some branch of the fifth cranial nerve, and the pressure of a cervical rib might cause neuralgia in the arm. In some instances an hereditary predisposition is an important factor in causing neuralgia.
It should be bome also in mind that pain of a neuralgic character may occur in inflammation of the nerves or nerve roots.
Neuralgia may be classified according to the nerve affected. Thus, for example, there is supra-orbital neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia, intercostal neuralgia or pleurodynia, occipital neuralgia, coccydynia, metatarsalgia, sciatica and visceral neuralgia, including stomach-neuralgia or gastralgia, kidney-neuralgia or nephralgia, and so on.
The immediate treatment of neuralgia consists in applying hot or cold applications and if necessary giving aspirin, phenacetin or some similar drug. Counter-irritation by a mustard plaster, a blister or some other means may be tried, hut the application should not be made over the painful part but at some little distance from it. A search must be made, however, for any constitutional or local cause. The extraction of a bad tooth, for example, or the provision of spectacles may work a cure, or, on the other hand, a course of iron in anemia or a vegetarian diet for the gouty. Electrical methods, ultra-violet rays and hot-air baths are used in treatment, and sometimes ionization is successful when other methods have failed. Sometimes the method of nerve-stretching is adopted, the nerve being cut down upon for the purpose. See: Neuritis..
Application and treatment:
Neuralgia in the Arms:
A reoccurrence of pain which extends along the course of one or many nerves. Pain is caused by cold, moisture, sudden chilling, or overwork and constipation. The complaint affects either the left or right arm but not both. If pain exists in both arms, see rheumatism. Muscular inflammation, food poisoning, gout, and diabetes can produce symptoms like neuralgia in the arms except the condition will be accompanied by fever and flushing. If the condition is serious consult a specialist at once.
The condition may be canceled by using positive polarity over the entire body for 10 minutes, going slowly over the body to cancel the negative polarity followed by negative under the left arm toward the spleen and positive over the heart for 3 minutes. Heat helps in mild cases.