Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy

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            Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition resulting from nerve damage. I can’t say for myself, but some of my relatives have complained from symptoms of this condition. A lot of people with diabetes have probably experienced this numbing and weakening of the arms and legs. The pain of peripheral neuropathy is generally described as a tingling or burning sensation, while the loss of sensation can be likened to wearing a thin glove or stocking.

            Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, inherent metabolic problems, or exposure to toxins. I have seen many cases improve with time, but most symptoms are usually only reduced with medications.

            To find out the underlying cause of your peripheral neuropathy, a history of your symptoms will be taken by your doctor. Blood and urine tests are used to check for diabetes, vitamin or metabolic deficiencies, and the presence of any underlying disease or genetic defect that affects nerve function. There’s also a serious need to look into your intake of alcohol and medications. Yes, alcohol causes neuropathy.

            Other diagnostic measures include electromyogram (EMG), nerve conduction velocity tests (NCV), biopsy, spinal tap, or lumbar puncture.

            The treatment for neuropathy depends on the cause of nerve damage. For instance, in a condition caused by vitamin deficiency, vitamin therapy and improved diet can treat or reverse the condition. Diabetes-related neuropathy can be slowed down by carefully monitoring the blood sugar levels. Likewise, in alcohol induced neuropathy, avoiding alcohol can dramatically improve the condition.

            The peripheral nerves have a limited capacity for regeneration, that’s why early diagnosis is essential in halting further progression of the condition. The damage done cannot be reversed but can be improved. Physical therapy may be needed to retain strength and avoid muscle cramping and spasms in those with severe neuropathy.

            Your doctor might prescribe medication for the pain. Custom shoes, AFO (ankle foot orthosis) or orthotics may also be recommended by your doctor to improve your mobility. Surgical treatment is also only recommended for people with nerve damage due to injury or nerve compression.

            Furthermore, there are new technologies: combination of electrical currents and local anesthetic that can be added to your current treatment regimen. Studies show a 80 % success rate using this new technology. I can attest to this success rate as I have found the same results in my practice.

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Guest Tuesday, 27 June 2017

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