Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms and Treatments

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves. People who develop this condition often report altered quality of life. But you can manage the symptoms!

What is neuropathy? Our nervous system is responsible for transmitting the signals all over the body with the help of connections established by central nervous system. For the process of sending these signals and information, the brain and associated nervous tissue use nerves.When these nerves get damaged, infected or diseased; peripheral neuropathy occurs which can result in loss of function (such as motor weakness and sensory numbness). Other symptoms include pain in different areas of body especially in feet and hands (also referred to as the peripheral neuropathy).

What Are Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms?

Peripheral nerves are classified into 3 types:

  • Sensory: nerves that are responsible for stimulating the skin.
  • Motor: nerves that are directly in touch with muscles.
  • Autonomic: nerves that are in contact with the internal organs of body.

All these or any of these nerves can be affected by Peripheral Neuropathy.

According to some research studies, patients may experience widespread nervous deficit that may include loss of sensations, moderate to severe pain (unprovoked) and burning feeling in the area of affected nerves, such as pins and needles in hands and feet, or warm feeling in feet.

Symptoms that represent the possibility are:

  • Burning and stabbing, sharp pain in nerves
  • Extraordinary sensitivity when touched
  • Tingling and numbness in feet and hands
  • Weakness in muscles, in extreme cases, the individual may get paralyzed due to effect on motor nerves
  • Coordination is decreased and the frequency of dropping things from hands is increased due to loss of motor control
  • Some other symptoms include burning sensation around chests, buttock and face

The symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy when autonomic nerves have been affected include:

  • Notable change in sweating (excessively increased or decreased)
  • Intolerance to surrounding temperature (mostly heat intolerance)
  • Problems in digestion, bladder issues and bowel incontinence
  • Feeling of sickness, dizziness and sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Random increase in frequency of heartbeat

If peripheral neuropathy affect any one nerve of body it is called mononeuropathy, when two or more nerves are affected in different areas it is called multiple mononeuropathy or polyneuropathy.

When to Visit a Doctor

If you are experiencing abnormal pain, weakness or tingling sensation in your hands or feet; you should plan to visit your doctor immediately. An early visit to a doctor can help you getting effective treatment and an opportunity to control the signs and symptoms you are facing. It will also help you to protect the nerves that have not been damaged already.

What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

It has been found out by a research that in UK, the most common cause is diabetes. Whether you have diabetes I or diabetes II there is high chance that you might develop this condition (especially in case of poor diabetic management). Diabetic Neuropathy is primarily caused due to the high blood sugar level in a body and resulting osmotic changes.

There are many other possible causes of Peripheral Neuropathy, including any injury that physically affect the nerves in the body, chronic infection like shingles, or as a consequence of any medicine or treatment.

It is always suggested to have regular checkups if you are experiencing symptoms in order to assess the nerves that may require help.

Other causes may include:

  • Cancer medications
  • Excessive use of alcoholism and smoking
  • Poisons
  • Viral infections
  • Disorders that are inherited
  • Disorder of bone marrow or bone cancer
  • Increased pressure on nerves due to tumors
  • Deficiency of vitamin B including B-1, B-6 and B-12

Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy

The treatment options rest largely on the primary cause and severity of symptoms. The nature and duration of treatments differ significantly, depending on the symptoms they are facing or the condition they are in.

  • The severity can be controlled if you take the causative factors seriously and start appropriate treatment in early stage. Keep in mind that the damage that has been done cannot be restored but treatment in early stages of disease can stop it from further increment.
  • Physical therapy is highly recommended for those who get seriously impaired. Surgery can also offer valuable help in individuals who had transient weakness or nerve damage due to spinal or cervical disc compression.
  • Use of mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs also helps.
  • Medications to control pain caused by Peripheral Neuropathy can also be prescribed.
  • If you have neuropathies caused by pressure on nerves, such as pressure from tumors, surgery is needed to reduce the pressure.

Home Remedies for Peripheral Neuropathy  

These remedies can minimize further risks:

Home Remedies

Description

Take extra care of your feet

Neuropathy in feet may trigger injuries and damage to the foot. Use soft wear and loose socks for your feet. Save it from cuts and blisters.

Perform physical activities

 

Follow proper exercise routine recommended by your doctor. It helps in reducing pain of neuropathy, as well as aid in controlling the sugar levels in your blood and strengthen the muscles.

Keep a healthy diet

Try to consume maximum amount of vitamins and minerals through your meal. Take meals with low-calorie and low-fat, increase intake of vegetables, fruits, dairy and fresh products.

Quit alcohol and smoking

Smoking and alcohol can aggravate the risk of peripheral neuropathy and may worsen the existing damage.

Control your sugar level

By watching your blood sugar level, you can control your glucose levels.

Alternative Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy  

Alternative Treatment

Description

Acupuncture

This modality of care helps in reducing the symptoms and involves the insertion of thin needles at different pressure points in the body.

Herbs

There are many herbs like primrose oil that help in reducing the symptoms along with pain and other neuropathy symptoms. Always discuss the situation with your doctor before taking herbs to avoid the risk of side effects.

Alpha-lipoic acid

This agent helps in reducing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, but it can affect your sugar level so make sure to discuss this option with your doctor before initiating the therapy. The side effects includedisturbance in stomach and rashes.

Amino acids

Patients who have gone through chemotherapy and those who have diabetes can benefit from amino acids to reduce the symptoms of neuropathy. The side effects it may cause are vomiting and nausea.

Fish oil

Medicines having omega 3 acids can help diabetic people in decreasing the inflammation and improving the blood flow. This agent however, can react with medicines for anti-clotting so discuss with your doctor before initiating the therapy.

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