Dr Roche answers questions on a painful surgical scar and night sweats

By Dr David Roche, Thursday 29 March 2012

Dr David Roche answers a question on pain after a circumcision and explains what could be causing night sweats
Dr David RocheDr David Roche

Q: Since a circumcision eight months ago I suffer constant pain which is eased a bit by Pregabalin tablets. My GP says my nerve ends may never heal, but is there any other effective treatment of any kind?

A: Any surgical scar has the potential to cause persistent pain but it is a rare complication and the causes are poorly understood. It is postulated that the scar or the surgery interferes with the normal function of the nerves that supply the area. Those nerves would normally register normal sensations of touch, temperature, pressure and pain. For some reason the pain-sensing nerves behave abnormally and constantly register pain for which there is no apparent cause. It often has an unusual quality and is referred to as “neuropathic pain”. Standard painkillers are usually ineffective but a group of drugs which alter nerve function can ameliorate the pain to some degree. Pregabalin is one of these and it is worth trying others in the group as individuals can react differently to specific drugs. I have several patients in whom the intensity of the pain has slowly faded over a long period of time when medication can then be withdrawn, others are not so fortunate. So your pain may settle yet.

Q: I've suffered with night sweats since I was a young man. The latest bout followed a severe virus, which caused acute anaemia. This has now been treated with iron tablets, but the sweats are a big problem. Tests for malaria and TB were negative.

A: Night sweats are quite common even when there’s no known cause. Some people sweat very easily and temperature control through the night is not always consistent. Other possibilities include a wide variety of infections, sarcoidosis, overactive thyroid, cancers (particularly lymphomas), drug therapy (many of the antidepressants), nervous system diseases, low blood sugar and many many more. You can see the problem: the only way to make progress is to take a full medical history and examination and then tailor any investigations to the clues revealed. The fact that you have had the sweats for many years without any serious disease becoming apparent is, of course, reassuring.

Dr David Roche is a GP in Sussex and answers readers’ questions every month in Saga Magazine. He can only answer questions there or on the Saga health website; email your questions to health.editor@saga.co.uk and he will answer as many as he can.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Related

  • Dr David Roche

    Saga expert Dr David Roche: health Q&As

    Dr David Roche answers questions about osteopenia and a swelling on a rib

    Read on

  • Dr David Roche

    Saga expert Dr David Roche: health Q&As

    Dr David Roche looks at the difference between coeliac disease and wheat intolerance and what a reader's mother can do to reduce the risk of DVT on a long plane journey

    Read on

  • Dr David Roche

    Saga expert Dr David Roche: health Q&As

    Dr David Roche answers questions on a heat rash and open angle glaucoma

    Read on

  • Dr David Roche

    Saga expert Dr David Roche: health Q&As December 2011

    This month Dr Roche answers questions on leaving your body to science and rough, itchy patches of skin

    Read on

  • Health Club

    Health Club

    Free membership and free online assessment to see how healthy you could be.

    MORE DETAILS

  • HCP thumbnail

    Health Cash Plan

    You can claim up to 75% of your common everyday healthcare expenses including dental and optical treatments.

    MORE DETAILS

  • Saga Health Insurance

    Health insurance

    A comprehensive range of competitively priced HealthPlans.

    MORE DETAILS


COMMENTS

Type your comment here


 characters remaining.

Health Insurance

Choose Saga Health Insurance for...

  • Prompt access to private medical treatment
  • A great choice of HealthPlans
  • Easy to take out cover.

Saga health e-newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest health news by signing up to our fortnightly health e-newsletter.

Saga Magazine

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £1 for 3 issues.