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neuralgia(no͝orăl`jə, nyo͝o–), acute paroxysmal pain along a peripheral sensory nerve. Unlike neuritisneuritis
, inflammation of a peripheral nerve, often accompanied by degenerative changes in nervous tissue. The cause can be mechanical (injury, pressure), vascular (occlusion of a vessel or hemorrhage into nerve tissue), infectious (invasion by microorganisms), toxic (metallic
..... Click the link for more information. , there is no inflammation or degeneration of nerve tissue. Neuralgia occurs commonly in the area of the facial, or trigeminal, nerve and brings attacks of excruciating pain at varying intervals. Often no cause can be found for trigeminal neuralgia, and in severe cases deadening of the nerve with novocaine or alcohol, or even surgical interruption of the nerve, is necessary to bring relief. Neuralgia can be caused by such disturbances as diabetes, infections, diseases of the nervous system, anemia, and extreme cold. The pain may occur for many months after an attack of shingles (see herpes zosterherpes zoster,
infection of a ganglion (nerve center) with severe pain and a blisterlike eruption in the area of the nerve distribution, a condition called shingles. The causative organism is varicella-zoster, a common, filtrable virus that also causes chickenpox, and can hide
..... Click the link for more information. ), and it is one of the symptoms of syphilitic involvement of the central nervous system. In many cases, pain can be relieved by hot applications, drugs, and various kinds of physiotherapy.
a pathological condition that is characterized by attacks of pain at the innervation site of a peripheral nerve. In contrast to neuritis, neuralgia does not involve motor disturbances or a loss of sensitivity, and structural changes in the affected nerve are not observed.
Neuralgias develop predominantly in nerves that pass through narrow canals and openings. With primary, or essential, neuralgia no accompanying diseases are clinically observed; with secondary, or symptomatic, neuralgia inflammatory processes, tumors, or other conditions harmful to nerves can arise. Should the neuralgia be prolonged, a neuritic stage can arise in which structural changes accompanied by a loss of sensitivity in the nerve become apparent.
Neuralgia produces paroxysmal pains and such autonomic vascular disturbances as reddening of the skin and lacrimation; sometimes localized muscle spasms in the form of painful tics occur. Neuralgia most commonly affects the trigeminal nerve; other nerves, such as the greater and lesser occipitals and the glossopharyngeal, are less frequently involved.
Secondary neuralgias are treated by curing the causative disease. In primary neuralgia, treatment involves injections of Novocain, topical use of Xylocaine, physiotherapy, and the use of B vitamins. Antispasmodics are specifically used for neuralgia of the trigeminal nerve.
V. A. KARLOV