Nerve pain in Parkinson’s, called neuropathy, is often treated with medications, physical therapy, supplements, or a combination of these treatments.
Close to one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. An estimated 90,000 people are newly diagnosed with this neurological disorder each year.
The main symptoms of PD involve trouble with movement, such as slow movement, tremors, and rigid muscles. However, it’s not uncommon for people with PD to have other symptoms, such as pain.
Researchers have found that pain is reported in
Musculoskeletal joint and muscle pain due to the movements of PD is the most common type of pain associated with PD. But nerve pain, also called neuropathic pain, can also be a part of PD. Keep reading to learn more about neuropathic pain in PD and how it’s treated.
Neuropathic pain happens when nerves become damaged or inflamed. The sensation of neuropathic pain can be described in several ways, including:
- sharp or shooting
- numbness and tingling (“pins and needles”)
Neuropathic pain is estimated to impact 5%–30% of people with PD. Its exact cause isn’t known.
Additionally, peripheral neuropathy is a separate condition that can coexist with PD, even when they aren’t causing each other.
Central pain in Parkinson’s disease
Another subtype of nerve-related pain observed in PD is called central pain. This happens when the pathways in your body that control pain sensations aren’t working as they should.
The experience of central pain can vary. Some may describe it as “pain all over,” while others may have a constant painful sensation in certain areas of the body. It may also occur with other symptoms like abdominal pain or shortness of breath.
Central pain is poorly understood and can be difficult to treat. In some situations, it can be managed by
- certain antidepressants
The following treatments can be used to treat neuropathic pain in PD.
There are a few different medications that may be used to ease neuropathy pain. These include:
- Anticonvulsants: While anticonvulsants are seizure drugs, they can also help with neuropathic pain. Some examples of anticonvulsants that may be used in people with PD are gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica).
- Antidepressants: Some antidepressants can also help with neuropathic pain. Examples of antidepressants that may be used for neuropathic pain in people with PD are:
- duloxetine (Cymbalta), a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
- Topical medications: Topical medications are applied directly to your skin. Some topical medications, such as lidocaine or capsaicin,
may also helpto relieve neuropathic pain localized to a certain area of the body.
Levodopa is associated with neuropathy. One
Levodopa-associated neuropathy may be due in part to low levels of some vitamins, particularly B12. Indeed,
It’s possible that B12 supplementation may help prevent PD-related neuropathy, although
Physical therapy and exercise
For example, if changes in posture are contributing to your neuropathy, a physical therapist can work with you to
Some people with PD develop neuropathy. This happens when nerves become damaged or inflamed and can lead to sensations of shooting pains, burning, or numbness and tingling.
There are a few ways that neuropathy due to PD may be treated. These include medications, supplements, and physical therapy. If you have PD and neuropathy, your doctor may use one or a combination of these to help ease your symptoms.
Be sure to let your doctor know if you have any questions about your neuropathy treatment or find that it’s not effectively managing your symptoms.