Oral Neuropathic Pain Disorder

Oral Neuropathic Pain Disorder
Oral Neuropathic Pain Disorder (Image: Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Martin Kingsley)

Neuropathic pain is often the result of damage to nerve endings or the central nervous system in your body. Oral neuropathic pain disorder is specific to nerve pain experienced in the mouth. The reasons for this particular disorder are broad and can be attributed to a wide range of ailments and injuries to the nerve endings found in the mouth. Treatment for oral neuropathic pain disorder includes the use of medications.


Oral neuropathic pain disorder is a very specific type of pain in the mouth. According to Dr. Mariella Padilla, Dr. Glenn Clark and Dr. Robert Merrill, writing in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), neuropathic pain can be the result of a variety of different ailments and damage to nerve endings. As a result, the nerve endings are constantly firing and send pain through the central nervous system.


Dr. Padilla and her colleagues indicate that there are a number of different illnesses that may result in oral neuropathic pain disorder. These include cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and systemic lupus. Additionally, injury to the facial area or mouth can trigger oral neuropathic pain. Damage to the peripheral nerve endings can result in the nerves attempting to reestablish the neuron pathways, which can result in painful sensations. Additionally, as the body attempts to rejuvenate from the damaging results of illnesses such as diabetes and lupus, nerve endings can fire randomly, potentially causing you extreme pain.


Often, the symptoms of oral neuropathic pain disorder fall into two categories--burning sensations and tingling and numbness. According to Dr. Padilla and her colleagues, burning sensations are experienced as if the skin or mucus membranes of the mouth have been painfully burned by a chemical. This burning sensation can expand outside of the mouth to the lips and skin immediately adjacent to the mouth. Tingling and numbness can also be experienced directly inside the mouth or on the skin directly surrounding the mouth and lips.


According to Dr. Padilla and her colleagues, once a diagnosis of oral neuropathic pain disorder has been made, the primary method of treatment is through medication. There are several methods of delivery of medications, including topical analgesics, which deaden the pain in the affected area. Analgesics can be delivered via dermal patches that are specifically designed to be used in the mouth, or topical creams. Medicated chewing gums and candies are also another method of delivering medications that address the unique nerve pain of oral neuropathic pain disorder.


According to Dr. Padilla and her colleagues, treatment and long-term prognosis for individuals with oral neuropathic pain disorder have improved over the past several years. In large part this is due to improved understanding of how pain works within the body and what triggers painful neuropathic pain symptoms. As medications and medication delivery systems have improved, so has the long-term treatment of this painful disorder.

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