Peripheral neuropathy, often experienced as pain and numbness in your hands and feet, is the result of nerve damage. There are multiple different causes of neuropathy, including diabetes, alcohol, infections, autoimmune diseases and more.
What are the common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?
Our peripheral nervous system communicates information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of our body and then back again to the brain. Peripheral neuropathy may involve a single nerve, several nerves in several areas, or many nerves throughout your body.
Patients report burning or tingling sensations. They describe numbness that feels like wearing a thin glove or sock which dulls feeling in their extremities. This condition may affect sensory nerves that register touch, pain or heat; motor nerves that control movement; or autonomic nerves that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, bladder function, and digestion.
Normally, peripheral neuropathy first affects the nerves that extend to your toes. Symptoms and signs will vary depending upon the nerves affected. Gradual tingling and numbness of your hands and feet may spread upward to your arms and legs.
A painful burning or a sharp, jabbing, shock-like pain may occur. Response to even the slightest touch may become hypersensitive. Muscle paralysis or weakness may develop if your motor nerves are involved. Bladder or bowel problems can occur when your autonomic nerves are affected.
When should I see pain management doctor in Orange County for peripheral neuropathy?
If you become aware of any unusual weakness, tingling, or pains in your hands or feet, contact your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and subsequent treatment will offer you the best odds to control symptoms and avoid further damage to your peripheral nerves. If your sleep is disturbed by symptoms or if you find your symptoms are making you depressed, your doctor will be able to recommend treatments that will help.
What is the cause of peripheral neuropathy?
The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes, but there are other possible sources of the problem including infections, traumatic injuries, exposure to toxins, or metabolic problems.
It can be difficult zeroing in on the precise cause of your peripheral neuropathy because numerous factors can cause it. These include alcoholism which results in a poor diet and vitamin deficiencies; autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Guillain-Barré syndrome; diabetes; exposure to poison; inherited disorders; infections; pressure or trauma to nerves; vitamin deficiencies; tumors; and other diseases.
What increases the risk of my experiencing peripheral neuropathy?
Diabetes greatly increases your risk of peripheral neuropathy, especially if your sugar levels are not properly controlled. Alcohol abuse and related vitamin deficiencies may be contributing factors along with: infections like Lyme disease, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and shingles; thyroid, liver or kidney disorders; autoimmune diseases like
Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus; repeated stress on the body, often from job-related activities; and exposure to toxins.
How is peripheral neuropathy diagnosed?
Peripheral neuropathy is not a specific disease; more accurately, it’s a symptom that Neuropathy treatment Orange Countycould have many possible causes. For this reason it can be difficult to diagnose correctly. Your doctor needs to identify which nerves are damaged and what caused that damage. To do so, a full medical history, a physical examination and a neurological examination can provide important clues.
Other tests may be called for, including: imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs to locate tumors, herniated discs, or other abnormalities; blood tests to measure blood sugar and vitamin levels as well as kidney, liver, and thyroid functions; nerve function tests; and a nerve biopsy to search for abnormalities.
How is peripheral neuropathy treated?
Often peripheral neuropathy improves over time, especially when its underlying cause can be remedied. Many different medications are useful in reducing the pain of peripheral neuropathy. These include: over-the-counter medications to relieve milder symptoms.
For more severe symptoms your doctor may prescribe painkillers; these stronger drugs contain opiates which may produce side effects like constipation, dependence, or sedation. As a result they are prescribed only after other treatments have failed. Anti-seizure medications can reduce nerve pain, and topical medications that contain capsaicin can trigger our bodies’ natural pain-blocking mechanism.
Lidocaine patches serve as a mild topical anesthetic, and antidepressants can alter the brain’s chemical process for feeling pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TE and S) may relieve symptoms by delivering a mild electric current to the affected area.
What can I do to manage my peripheral neuropathy?
If you have diabetes, odds are you may develop peripheral neuropathy. Take good care of your feet, looking daily for early signs of calluses, blisters, or cuts. Socks and shoes that don’t fit properly can intensify tingling and pain, and produce open sores that won’t heal. Talk to your doctor about a suitable exercise program to help control your blood-sugar level and minimize your pain. Stop smoking; it harms your circulation and can increase the risk of foot problems, even amputation.
Eating healthy meals supplies your body with vitamins and minerals to combat peripheral neuropathy. Massage stimulates nerves, improves circulation, and may temporarily reduce your pain, so get in the habit of massaging your feet and hands often. Try to avoid crossing your legs or leaning on your elbows because these actions can also damage nerves.
If you or a loved on is suffering with peripheral neuropathy , let the California Pain Network get you connected with the best pain management doctors in Orange County, Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana and surrounding areas.
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