Neuropathy TreatmentAlbany, OR
Neuropathy affects how nerve signals communicate with the brain and spinal cord. Neuropathy describes a condition in which neurons become damaged or destroyed, causing numbness and weakness in parts of the body. With treatment and a few lifestyle changes, we can repair these neural pathways and improve your symptoms.
At Better Pain Solutions, we offer neuropathy treatments for patients experiencing numbness, weakness, and increased sensitivity. Our team can assess your case and determine the right treatment option for you. To learn more about a procedure or schedule an appointment, call (541) 249-7317 today.
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, or peripheral neuropathy, refers to the damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves in the body. The condition typically affects nerves in the hands and feet first but can spread to other body parts if left untreated. Peripheral neuropathy typically indicates a problem with the peripheral nervous system, the system responsible for sending sensory information from the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of your body.
The peripheral nervous system consists of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, which comprise the central nervous system. These two systems work together to send and receive important sensory signals that allow our bodies to move and function properly. Neuropathy occurs when nerve cells, called neurons, become damaged or destroyed and disrupt the way they communicate with each other and the brain.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Different nerves perform different functions. Peripheral nerves can be classified into three subtypes: sensory nerves (sensations), motor nerves (movement), and autonomic nerves (controls functions). Symptoms typically vary depending on the type of nerves affected and their cause.
Signs and symptoms that may indicate peripheral neuropathy include:
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Gradual onset of numbness, prickling, or tingling in the hands or feet, or upward into the legs and arms
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness
- Pain when putting weight on feet or when they are under a blanket
- Paralysis if motor nerves are affected
- Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, or burning pain
- The feeling of wearing gloves or socks when not
Autonomic symptoms may also include symptoms such as:
- Bowel, bladder, or digestive problems
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Drops in blood pressure
- Excessive sweating or not being able to sweat
- Heat intolerance
Patients experiencing any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Neuropathy can affect one or more nerves at once. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome is a mononeuropathy condition. A proper diagnosis can determine the cause of neuropathy and the nerves affected.
Common Causes of of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy can be genetic or acquired. Acquired neuropathy may result from another disorder or condition (symptomatic) but may also have no underlying cause (idiopathic). Diabetes is the most common cause of chronic peripheral neuropathy in the U.S. About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes will damage their sensory, motor, or autonomic nerves.
Symptomatic neuropathy has a variety of common causes, including:
- Chronic kidney disease: In dysfunctioning kidneys, an imbalance of salts and chemicals can cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Guillain-Barré syndrome: a specific type of peripheral neuropathy triggered by infection
- Infections: Shingles, HIV infection, Lyme disease, and viral illnesses can lead to nerve damage
- Injuries: Broken bones and tight plaster casts can put pressure directly on the nerves
- Some autoimmune disorders: including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- Some kinds of cancers: including lymphoma and multiple myeloma
Behavioral and environmental causes of neuropathy include excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to toxins, vitamin deficiencies, and certain medications such as chemotherapy and HIV treatment drugs.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To properly diagnose peripheral neuropathy, we begin with a consultation visit to thoroughly examine the patient and discuss their present symptoms. The examination entails checking for signs of muscle weakness, numbness, and impaired reflexes. We may order blood and urine tests to check for diabetes, vitamin or metabolic deficiencies, and the presence of any underlying disease or genetic defect that may be affecting nerve function. We may also conduct electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests, as well as nerve and muscle biopsies, to determine the type of neuropathy.
Once we complete the diagnosis, we can recommend possible treatment options. Treatment largely depends on the patient’s case, the cause of their condition, and the symptoms they experience. Treatment options include:
- Altering or modifying treatment of other health conditions, such as diabetes
- Lifestyle changes, such as decreasing or stopping alcohol consumption
- Medications to control symptoms, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), or some antiepileptic medications
- Therapies, including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin, physical therapy, and surgery
Recovery and Management
Recovery protocol will depend on the type of treatment the patient undergoes. We will continually monitor the patient’s progress throughout the recovery period. It is imperative that patients communicate any changes to their health, including any new medications or symptoms they are facing.
To help manage the condition, we suggest implementing healthier lifestyle choices in everyday life. This includes taking care of the feet (wearing soft, loose socks and comfortable shoes), regular exercise, quitting smoking and alcohol, eating healthy and nutritious foods, and monitoring glucose levels. Coupling treatment with lifestyle and behavioral changes gives patients the best possible outcome.
Schedule a Visit Today
Neuropathy consultations and treatments are available at our office. The Better Pain Solutions team looks forward to treating you and helping you learn to manage your condition. Call our office at (541) 249-7317 to learn more or schedule an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Peripheral Neuropathy
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects how neurons communicate with the brain and spinal cord. The condition causes numbness, weakness, and increased sensitivity, especially in the hands and feet. A variety of other health conditions can affect and exacerbate peripheral neuropathy.
What is the difference between polyneuropathy and mononeuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy can affect multiple nerves (polyneuropathy) or only one nerve or nerve group (mononeuropathy) at a time. Mononeuropathy is usually the result of damage to a single nerve or nerve group by trauma, injury, local compression, prolonged pressure, or inflammation.
What are the different types of nerves responsible for?
Motor nerves send impulses from the brain and spinal cord to all of the muscles in the body and permit you to do activities like walking, catching a baseball, or moving the fingers to pick something up. Sensory nerves send messages in the other direction - from the muscles back to the spinal cord and the brain. Special sensors in the skin and deep inside the body help people identify if an object is sharp, rough, or smooth, if it is hot or cold, or if a body part is still or in motion. Autonomic nerves control involuntary or semi-voluntary functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and sweating.
What are the most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?
Signs or symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary depending on the cause and the patient’s unique case. Symptoms typically include increased sensitivity to hot and cold sensations; a sharp, jabbing, or electric pain; difficulty sleeping due to feet and leg pain; loss of balance and coordination; muscle weakness; and abnormalities in blood pressure or pulse.
What are some examples of peripheral neuropathy conditions?
There are many types of peripheral neuropathy conditions. Two examples are Carpal tunnel syndrome (a painful wrist and hand disorder often associated with repetitive tasks on a computer keyboard) and Bell's palsy (a facial nerve disorder).
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