Nerve pain

Neuropathic pain - how to manage nerve pain

Neuropathy is a pain condition where you feel pain, numbness, and tingling or burning sensations that aren’t triggered by injury or illness. Instead, damaged nerves send false signals that make you feel real pain even though there is no cause for it. It is often chronic and tends to worsen over time. There are a number of treatments and lifestyle changes that can ease symptoms and provide some relief.

Nervsmärta - Sanddyner

What is nerve pain? Types and causes of nerve pain

Nerve pain, also called neuropathic pain or neuralgia, occurs when damaged nerves send false signals of pain sensation to the brain, causing you to feel real pain. Damaged nerves can also do the opposite, ie cause you not to feel pain, when you actually have an injury that should feel painful.

There are many different types of nerve pain including:

  • Peripheral neuropathy - affects the peripheral nerve system which sends signals between the central nervous system and the rest of the body
  • Autonomic neuropathy - affects the nerves that control the internal organs and manage essential bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing and digestion
  • Focal neuropathy - usually caused by damage to a single nerve such as in the case of Bell’s palsy
  • Proximal neuropathy - a rare type of nerve damage that causes pain on one side of the body, in the hip, buttock or thigh
  • Compression mononeuropathy - such as carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by damage to a single nerve
  • Phantom limb syndrome - pain or other sensations in a missing limb following an amputation
  • Trigeminal neuralgia - intense pain in the face caused by compression or damage to the trigeminal nerve (often caused by a stroke, MS or facial surgery)
  • Postherpetic neuralgia - a complication of shingles which causes pain in the area where you had the shingles rash
  • Thoracic or lumbar radiculopathy - a type of mononeuropathy affecting the chest or abdominal wall
  • Occipital neuropathy - causes pain at the base of your skull and back of your head
  • Pudendal neuropathy - causes pain between the legs in the “saddle area”

Nerve pain is usually caused by disease or injury. Around a third of all cases of nerve pain are caused by diabetes. Other causes include:

  • Trapped nerves (such as carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Nerve damage caused by trauma or surgery
  • Spinal nerve compression or inflammation
  • Amputation
  • Disorders affecting the central nervous system (such as stroke, MS, Parkinson’s etc)
  • Alcoholism
  • Infections such as HIV, AIDS, shingles
  • Cancer (tumors etc) and cancer treatment with radiation, surgery or chemotherapy
  • Vitamin B12 or thiamine deficiency

Symptoms of neuropathy - what does nerve pain feel like?

Neuropathic pain may present itself through a variety of different symptoms. It often appears as spontaneous pain (pain that appears from nowhere, without stimulation) and feels like a shooting, burning, stabbing or even electrical shock type of pain. It can also feel like a tingling, “pins and needles” type of sensation.

People with nerve pain may be very sensitive to cold and may experience pain from even the lightest touch. This is called allodynia. They may also feel more (hyperalgesia) or less (hypoalgesia) pain from normally painful stimuli. An abnormal and unpleasant sensation that can come from stimulus or appear spontaneously is called dysesthesia.

Whether mild or severe, nerve pain is often worse at night and can interfere with sleep, sex, work and exercise. As a result, some people with nerve pain may eventually experience related anxiety and depression.

Symtom nervsmärta

Nerve pain relief

There is a lot you can do to manage nerve pain, but it can take some time to figure out what works best for you and fits best with your lifestyle. A digital pain coach such as Paindrainer can give you customized personal advice about how to optimize your daily activities so that you have energy to do what is of value to you.

A number of treatments and lifestyle changes can also offer some relief:

  • OTC painkillers
  • Topical painkillers
  • Vitamins and supplements (as recommended by your doctor)
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Assistive devices
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis
  • Relaxation
  • Talk therapy
  • A healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Not smoking

If your nerve pain is severe, it’s important to get help from a doctor to correctly diagnose and make a treatment plan.

Ont i ryggen

Sciatica - what causes sciatic nerve pain?

Sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain, is pain that radiates down along the sciatic nerve, from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks and down each leg, usually affecting only one side of your body. The pain can be accompanied by numbness, a tingling sensation, or weakness in the leg.

Sciatica can cause pain ranging from a mild ache, to severe pain such as a sharp burning sensation or pain that feels like an electric shock. It’s usually caused by compression of the nerve from a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or a narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis).

A physiotherapist can give you exercises that will help the sciatic nerve to glide more smoothly. Some simple exercises are available in the PainDrainer app, a digital pain coach that can help you manage your pain.

Sciatic nerve pain relief

Most often, sciatica resolves itself with the help of non-operative treatments within a few weeks. To speed up recovery, doctors recommend you to:

  • Keep moving! Maintain your regular activities as far as possible, and regularly do exercises for sciatica
  • Talk to your pharmacist - they can help you to find the right painkiller to relieve pain and make it possible for you to keep moving
  • Hold a heat pack against the painful area - but avoid hot water bottles since numbness in the affected area may prevent you from feeling a burn before it’s too late
  • Use cushions to support your legs when sleeping
  • Avoid sitting or lying down for longer periods

Treatment of sciatica may involve medication, physical therapy, steroid injections and surgery. In addition, since obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor posture may be factors that increase your likelihood of experiencing sciatica, regular exercise, good posture, and maintaining a healthy weight can all help to prevent sciatica.

Radial nerve pain

If you are experiencing pain in the back of your hand, around your thumb, and in your middle and index fingers, that may make it hard to fully stretch out your arm and fingers, it may be due to a radial nerve injury. The radial nerve runs down the underside of your arms to your fingertips. An injury to this nerve is usually felt when your palm is pressed against something and your wrist is bent back. Although radial nerve injuries usually cause pain, numbness, or a tingling or burning sensation, they can also be completely painless. A radial nerve injury can also cause weakness in the hand and wrist or difficulty moving that part of your body.

Nerve pain in the leg

Nerve pain in the leg can range from a mild dull ache to a shooting, throbbing or burning pain. It can be intermittent or constant and may be accompanied by a loss of sensation or an icy feeling. Since nerve pain in the leg can be due to a wide variety of causes or conditions, it’s important to get a correct diagnosis in order to treat it correctly.

Nerve pain in the foot

Nerve pain in the foot may be caused by a pinched nerve, or a chronic illness such as diabetes. Such nerve pain can result in:

  • Sharp pain, like the feeling of an electric shock in the foot
  • A burning, throbbing or tingling sensation
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness in the foot
  • Pain that is worse at night or in connection with specific activities

Managing neuropathic pain

If you are experiencing neuropathic pain, see your doctor to discuss your symptoms and make a treatment plan. New advancements in chronic pain management can also help you to optimize how you live with chronic pain while maintaining an active lifestyle.


Neuropathic pain 

Nerve pain explained 

What you should know about neuropathic pain 

Nerve pain (Neuralgia) 

What is nerve pain?

Types and causes of neuropathic pain

Nonprescription treatments for nerve pain



Nerve pain in the foot

Causes and treatment of radial nerve injuries 

Injury of the radial nerve

Leg pain and numbness

Paindrainer is proven to help you manage your pain

Data for individuals with chronic back and neck pain using Paindrainer for 12 weeks.

Improved physical function*
Decreased pain intensity*
Decreased pain interference*
Increased daily capacity to work*

*Barreveld A.M.,et al,. Pain Med. (2023) Apr 27

User reviews

Many satisfied users benefit in understanding their pain and managing their daily lives

"By using Paindrainer, I've gained an understanding of what negatively affects my pain and what I need to do to take care of myself.

I've realized how important it is to sleep well, do things I enjoy, and incorporate rest into my daily life. It makes me feel better. Mentally, it's positive because I notice that days vary, and it gives me hope when the pain is at its worst.

Paindrainer is easy to use and has become like a friend I carry in my pocket, reminding me to be kind to myself."

- Maria

"Paindrainer has truly helped me create a more balanced daily routine and make conscious decisions to prioritize what is valuable for me and improve my well-being.

After just a week of using Paindrainer, I received recommendation to prioritize more sleep. Now, I've increased my sleep from 6 to 7 hours per night, which has really benefited me. In addition to sleep, Paindrainer made me aware that longer workout sessions were increasing my pain. As a result, I've adjusted my training to shorter sessions of no more than 20 minutes and added an extra training day per week instead, which suits me much better.

- Cecilia