For those suffering from neuropathic pain, many report that their symptoms tend to worsen at night. This phenomenon is known as “night exacerbation” and can leave those affected feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. But why does this tend to happen? Let’s find out!
What is Neuropathic Pain?
As the name suggests, neuropathic pain is a kind of pain that results from impaired functioning or damage to the nerves. Common causes include traumatic injuries, strokes, and metabolic disorders like diabetes. It can cause extreme sensations such as burning, tingling, numbness, paresthesia (pins and needles sensations), and electric shock-like pain.
Why Does Neuropathic Pain Seem To Get Worse at Night?
There are several possible explanations for why neuropathic pain may get worse at night. These include:
The Circadian Rhythm Connection
Our circadian rhythms – the internal biological clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle – influence the perception of pain. Neurotransmitters important for regulating mood, sleep, and pain sensitivity follow a circadian rhythm.
Specifically, there is a dip in the neurochemicals norepinephrine and serotonin at night, which lowers our pain threshold. This can make neuropathic pain more intense at night.
Decreased Distraction at Night
During the day, when we are active or busy, we tend not to notice pain as much. But at night, especially when trying to fall asleep, our focus shifts inward. This means any pain sensation that may have gone unnoticed during the day can become more pronounced.
Fatigue and Pain Sensitivity
Research has shown that fatigue can lower pain thresholds and increase sensitivity to pain, exacerbating neuropathic pain symptoms at night. This is why getting enough restful sleep is crucial for chronic pain management.
Changes in Body Position
Lying down to sleep can also impact neuropathic pain. This change in body position can increase pressure on certain areas, leading to increased pain. Additionally, many people have specific sleeping positions that may exacerbate neuropathic pain.
Managing Nighttime Exacerbation of Pain
Improving sleep hygiene, practicing relaxation techniques, and maintaining a regular and healthy sleep schedule can help manage nighttime neuropathic pain. Pain medications such as analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and antidepressants may also help manage the pain.
For those who prefer non-pharmacological interventions, treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy, physical therapy, massage, and certain lifestyle modifications can help ease the night exacerbation of neuropathic pain and promote better sleep.
Other alternative treatment options include acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and tai chi, which have been shown to reduce pain levels, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality. However, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment regimen to avoid further complications.
Neuropathic pain is a complex and debilitating disorder that seems to get worse at night, leading to severe impairment. At Alchemy Wellness, we understand that neuropathic pain is difficult to manage and are committed to providing evidence-based alternative treatment options to help you find relief.
If you’ve tried traditional treatment methods without success, our personalized ketamine treatments may be just what you need. Ketamine has shown promise in managing a wide range of chronic and treatment-resistant pain conditions, including neuropathic pain.
Our team is committed to helping create a tailored treatment plan that aligns with your individual needs and treatment goals, offering reprieve when other options have proven ineffective. Don’t let neuropathic pain take over your life! Schedule a free consultation, and together we will explore how ketamine infusion therapy can help you live a pain-free life.