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Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a painful condition that is caused by damaged to one or more of the peripheral nerves. When these nerves are damaged, the messages that travel between the central and peripheral nervous system are disrupted.

The condition can be classified according to the number of nerves that have been affected.

  • Mononeuropathy: The term used when only one nerve has been damaged.
  • Polyneuropathy: The term used when multiple nerves have been damaged.

Additionally, there are two types of peripheral neuropathy:

  • Acute peripheral neuropathy: this condition has a sudden and rapid onset
  • Chronic peripheral neuropathy: this condition develops gradually over the course of many months.

Although anyone can develop peripheral neuropathy, the condition is more common in people who have risk factors. A proper diagnosis of the condition consists of a physical examination and blood tests. A doctor may also thoroughly review a patient’s medical history, symptoms, alcohol consumption, and current medications. When the peripheral neuropathy is detected early, the condition can usually be treated successfully.

Causes

The primary cause of peripheral neuropathy is type 2 diabetes. Additional underlying conditions that may result in peripheral neuropathy include:

  • B12 and folate vitamin deficiencies
  • Cancers
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Lyme disease
  • HIV infection
  • Sarcoidosis

Alcohol, injuries, and certain medications can also contribute to peripheral neuropathy.

Symptoms

The following is a list of the symptoms that are associated with the damaged sensory, motor, and autonomic nerve.

Sensory Nerves

  • Inability to experience pain
  • Difficulty detecting temperature changes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Intense pain

Motor Nerves

  • Muscle twitching
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle paralysis

Autonomic Nerves

  • Bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Impotence
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Inability to produce sweat
  • Difficulty tolerating heat
  • Bladder function problems

Treatments

Many of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can be relieved by treating the underlying conditions.

  • Physiotherapy: For those who are needing help completing daily activities, a physiotherapist may be able to help patients with aids such as a walking stick, walking frame, crutches, foot braces, and/or a wrist splint. Additionally, a physiotherapy program can assist patients with improving their muscle strength by participating in regular exercise.
  • Medication Management: There are many medications that can control symptoms of pain including gabapentin, amitriptyline, and carbamazepine. After a review of a patient’s symptoms and medical history, an experienced doctor will provide the proper medication plan.
  • Nutrition and Wellness: Consuming small and frequent meals and elevating the head of the bed while sleeping may reduce many of the symptoms that are associated with peripheral neuropathy. These nutrition and wellness treatment options may control fatigue, chronic pain, and bowel problems.

Contact Allied Pain & Spine Institute today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists about peripheral neuropathy.

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