What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a name for damage to the nerves in the body. Nerves carry messages to and from the brain, but those messages get distorted when nerves are damaged.
Neuropathy is generally categorized into a number of types:
Peripheral neuropathy: affects the nerves in the extremities (hands and feet)
Cranial neuropathy: damage to any of the 12 cranial nerves
Proximal neuropathy: can cause muscle weakness, typically in the upper leg and hips
Autonomic neuropathy: damage to the nerves of the involuntary nervous system
Focal neuropathy: localized to one group of nerves
Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common neuropathies, especially among adults with diabetes.
What causes neuropathy?
Neuropathy can be brought on by genetic factors or other causes such as:
Decreased blood flow due to vascular disorders
Trauma from accidents, sports, or falls
Infections such as HIV, herpes, and Lyme disease
These and other causes can damage the nerves due to decreased blood flow, compression, nutrient deficiencies, and other reasons.
How do I know if I have neuropathy?
First, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of neuropathy, especially if you’re at high risk for the condition. Symptoms of neuropathy to watch for include:
Tingling, prickles, or numbness in the limbs
Stabbing, throbbing, or burning sensations
Muscle twitching, cramps, or spasms
Dexterity, coordination, or reflex issues
Difficulties moving parts of the body
Bowel, bladder, or digestive issues
To find out for sure if you have neuropathy, you need to see a specialist for diagnosis. They will perform a thorough workup, including a physical exam, lab work, and nerve testing, to confirm your diagnosis.
What treatments are available for neuropathy?
Numerous treatment modalities are available for neuropathies, and your pain specialist puts together a customized treatment plan based on the cause and severity of your particular nerve condition.
TENS therapy is one common treatment for mild neuropathies that delivers an electric current through the affected area. Complex neuropathies may respond well to spinal cord stimulation, a device implanted in the spinal column that helps normalize overactive nerve impulses.
Medication is often beneficial for lessening pain, and physical therapy can help improve strength, while braces can provide support. Surgery is usually only recommended in severe cases that don’t respond to more conservative methods.
Learn more about neuropathy treatment options by calling the office or requesting an appointment online today.