Neuralgia, or nerve pain, is a common presenting complaint for the hand surgeon. When the nerve at play is easily localized, and the cause of the pain is clear (eg, carpal tunnel syndrome), the patient may be easily treated with excellent results. However, in more complex cases, the underlying pathophysiology and cause of neuralgia can be more difficult to interpret; if incorrectly managed, this leads to frustration for both the patient and surgeon. Here we offer a way to conceptualize neuralgia into 4 categories—compression neuropathy, neuroma, painful hyperalgesia, and phantom nerve pain—and offer an illustrative clinical vignette and strategies for optimal management of each. Further, we delineate the reasons why compression neuropathy and neuroma are amenable to surgery, while painful hyperalgesia and phantom nerve pain are not.
- Nerve pain
- Nerve surgery