Take action now while your nerves can still recover. Left untreated, Peripheral Neuropathy can progress into requiring a cane, then a walker and then a wheelchair.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy refers to the conditions that result when nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body are damaged or diseased. The peripheral nerves make up an intricate network that connects the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, skin, and internal organs. This is a progressive disorder that only gets worse over time.
Neuropathy causes tingling or numbness, especially in the hands and feet. It affects more than 20 million Americans and is caused by damage to single or multiple nerves. There are different types of peripheral neuropathy, but the most common is in those with diabetes.
Peripheral neuropathy may develop at any phase of the diabetes journey, even sometimes as a pre-diabetic or while taking medications. Knowing what some of the causes are and being able to describe your symptoms to your health care team can help you manage neuropathy. Symptoms are often ignored by both patients and health care professionals. If you have symptoms of neuropathy, it is important to discuss this with our health care team as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy can affect the nerves that tell you the position of your hands or feet, let you sense hot or cold, or that senses pain. You can experience a tingling, burning or numbness in certain areas of the body, commonly the hands or feet. These sensations can range from mild to painful and are almost always greatest at n
Common signs and symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling, especially of the hands or feet.
- Pain or cramping, especially of the hands, feet or calf muscles.
- Sensitivity to touch or temperature.
- Loss of reflexes.
- Muscle wasting in the hands and feet.
- Weakness, especially in the feet or hands.
- Loss of balance, particularly in the dark.
- Dizziness, especially when getting up from a bed or a chair.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Brain Fog such as you can’t remember where you parked your car, or where you put your car keys.
It’s not easy to deal with neuropathy since there are no medications that can cure or stop the progression of this disorder. If you notice symptoms, talk to our health care team immediately.
Factors that Increase the Risk of Neuropathy
Neuropathy is most commonly due to diabetes, but various drugs can also cause it such as statins to lower cholesterol. Neuropathy may occur from cancer or the treatment received.
Life factors that may increase the chances of developing neuropathy:
- Advanced age.
- A family history of neuropathy (such as with familial diabetes).
- Malnourishment such as B12 or Vitamin D deficiencies.
- Excessive use of alcohol.
- Having a preexisting medical condition such as diabetes or thyroid dysfunction.
- Some medications (including chemotherapy medications) also increase risk.
- Environmental pollutants and toxins.
Medications that may increase the risk of neuropathy:
- Platinum compounds.
- Statins (cholesterol-lowerin drugs).
- Vinca alkaloids.
- Cytosine arabinoside.
Discuss all of these risks with our health care team.
Treatments for Neuropathy
The peripheral nerves have a great ability to heal. Even though it may take months, recovery can occur. However, in some situations, symptoms of neuropathy may lessen, but not completely go away.
Treatments for peripheral neuropathy depend on the cause. For instance:
- If it is related to nutritional deficiencies, supplements may help.
- If the neuropathy is related to a medical condition, such as diabetes or thyroid dysfunction, addressing the condition can sometimes reverse the neuropathic symptoms.
- For neuropathy related to chemotherapy, most treatments are supportive and designed to improve symptoms and function.
Recovery may be helped by:
- Controlling and correcting contributing conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.
- Improving blood flow with oxygen to the body with Total Brain & Body O2.
- Advanced therapies such as Laser, PEMF, Hako Med, Calmare, Pulse Wave, G5, Lumbar Traction, Nitric Oxide supplements, etc
How Neuropathy Affects Your Life
Pain from neuropathy can greatly affect your daily activities and quality of life. Symptoms of neuropathy can range from mild to severe. Each patient’s experience will be different. However, with appropriate treatment, the effects of neuropathy can be limited or eliminated.
If you have neuropathy, you may have:
- Difficulty standing for long periods or walking without assistance such as with a cane or walker.
- Problems with balance and an increased risk of falling.
- Inability to feel the gas or brake pedals and unable to drive.
- Difficulty with activities like buttoning and tying laces or ties.
- Sensitivity to heat or cold.
- Numbness or lack of pain sensation.
- Burning Pain, Throbbing or tingling sensations.
Patients with temperature sensitivity should avoid extreme temperatures and use protective clothing as needed. If there is numbness or an inability to feel pain, it is important to pay careful attention to the skin on the hands and feet because there could be an undetected wound or a break in the skin.