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Neuralgia is a sharp, shocking pain that follows the path of a nerve and is due to irritation or damage to the nerve.

Common neuralgias include:

  • Shingles

  • Trigeminal neuralgia

  • Causes

  • Causes of neuralgia include:

  • Chemical irritation

  • Chronic renal insufficiency

  • Diabetes

  • Infections, such as herpes zoster ( shingles), HIV, Lyme disease, and syphilis

  • Medications such as cisplatin, paclitaxel, or vincristine

  • Porphyria

  • Pressure on nerves by nearby bones, ligaments, blood vessels, or tumors

  • Trauma (including surgery)

In many cases, the cause is unknown.

Postherpetic neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia are the two most common forms of neuralgia.

A related but less common neuralgia affects the glossopharyngeal nerve, which provides feeling to the throat.

Neuralgia is more common in elderly people, but it may occur at any age.


  • Increased sensitivity of the skin along the path of the damaged nerve, so that any touch or pressure is felt as pain

  • Numbness along the path of the nerve

  • In the same location each episode

  • Sharp, stabbing

  • May come and go (intermittent), or be constant, burning pain

  • May get worse when the area is moved

  • Weakness or complete paralysis of muscles supplied by the same nerve

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