neuralgia (nŏrălˈjə, nyŏ–) [key], acute paroxysmal pain along a peripheral sensory nerve. Unlike neuritis, 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 zoster), 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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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