Neuropathic pain is caused by an abnormality in the day to day function of the peripheral or central nervous system. In most cases, this type of pain is ordinarily chronic in nature. Because our pets are unable to verbalize their discomfort, the pain of a neuropathic origin can be difficult to diagnose, thus making a visit to the veterinarian paramount to your dog’s health. Although your dog will not be able to explain to you of the severity of the pain, he deserves to be relieved of it. Research of the neurobiological mechanisms of neuropathic pain is an area of science where the input of human experience is being utilized to help the advancement of care for our animal friends. Neuropathic pain can take many forms, which cannot be described to us by our dogs, such as burning or stabbing. The veterinarian, of which it’s important to pick a doctor with some experience in this particular field, will analyze the existence of this chronic pain in your dog by looking at your pet’s history, and checking causes like an identifiable lesion, and through aneurological examination to rule out other possible causes of pain. A combination of both medication and therapy such as acupuncture will be suggested upon identification of neuropathic pain.
- Change in mood
- Low tolerance to activity, especially exercise
- Licking an area constantly
- Vocalization of pain
- Lack of appetite
- Change in posture
- Difficulty walking or standing up
- Trouble with jumping or managing stairs
- Exhibit a painful reaction to non-painful pressure such as touch (allodynia)
- Heightened sensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia)
- Abnormal sensitivity to touch and sensation (hyperpathia)
Neuropathic pain occurs when the pain moves from the original source and the neural pathways become unusually sensitized. The pain then occurs with or without stimuli. Common causes would include chronic disc disease, chronic orthopedic disease (arthritis), cancer, trauma, diabetes, and others.
The diagnosis of neuropathic pain is often made by recognizing abnormal behavior and by the physical exam. Abnormal pain responses may be found on the exam. Pain response to non-painful stimulation such as touch (allodynia) Heightened sensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia). Excessive sensitivity to touch, pressure, stimulation (hyperpathia). Imaging test (i.e. Radiographs, CT, MRI) may be recommended to find the potential source of the pain.
Treatment consists of a combination of drugs and non-pharmacological therapy. Some of the options include:
- Local anesthetics
- Rehabilitation exercises