Neuropathic pain has only been investigated relatively recently. In most types of neuropathic pain, all signs of the original injury are usually gone and the pain that one feels is unrelated to an observable injury or condition. With this type of pain, certain nerves continue to send pain messages to the brain even though there is no ongoing tissue damage.
Neuropathic pain (also called nerve pain or neuropathy) is very different from pain caused by an underlying injury. While it is not completely understood, it is thought that injury to the sensory or motor nerves in the peripheral nervous system can potentially cause neuropathy. Neuropathic pain could be placed in the chronic pain category but it has a different feel then chronic pain of a musculoskeletal nature.
Neuropathic pain feels different than musculoskeletal pain and is often described with the following terms: severe, sharp, lancinating, lightning-like, stabbing, burning, cold, and/or ongoing numbness, tingling or weakness. It may be felt traveling along the nerve path from the spine down to the arms/hands or legs/feet. It's important to understand neuropathic pain because it has very different treatment options from other types of back pain. For example, opioids (such as morphine) and NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen, COX-2 inhibitors) are usually not effective in relieving neuropathic pain. Treatments for neuropathic pain include certain medications, nerve "block" injections, and a variety of interventions generally used for chronic pain.