Approximately one in ten people are likely to develop some kind of nerve damage during their lifetime; regardless nerve damage receives considerably less attention than many other chronic conditions. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common ‘umbrella’ term for damage which occurs in the body’s extremities such as hands, feet, and limbs. It can vary from moderate discomfort and numbness, to acute searing pain that seems to occur at random. In perhaps its most extreme manifestation, nerve damage can lead to trigeminal neuralgia, a rare illness that focuses upon severe, sharp, and often long-lasting pain affecting the face.
There are various causes and explanations for why nerve damage may occur. Likewise, the symptoms may change as time passes by, with the pain becoming more or less seemingly at random. Living with nerve damage can be extremely difficult and it is essential as such, that you see a medical center or physical therapist. If nerve damage is diagnosed swiftly, then it is possible – in some cases – to at least partially limit the spread and intensity of the damage through a combination of physical treatment and complementary therapies. Be aware that one of the most frustrating aspects of nerve damage is that every case is different and there is never any certainty that treatments are going to be universally successful.
What Causes Nerve Damage?
General nerve damage can be caused by trauma/damage to the body, infections, side effect of medicine or as a consequence of drug/alcohol abuse and an unhealthy lifestyle. Diabetes is currently one of the fastest-growing contributors to the increasing number of diagnoses (diabetic polyneuropathy). Nerve damage can also arise as a complication from cancer and motor neuron disease.
Trigeminal neuralgia occurs when nerves within the skull become damaged and cause a disruption in the transmission of sensory information. Even though there is no injury, the nerves are transmitting extreme pain and these attacks may last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes. There are a variety of reasons why these specific nerves seem so prone to nerve damage. Cysts, tumors, arteriovenous malformation (a tangle of veins and nerves), and MS are the most common.
As there are so many potential causes for every kind of nerve damage, many experts are recommending people in their middle age try and perform annual nerve checkup/assessments. The quicker a potential problem is found but a medical doctor, the sooner it can be isolated.
When To See A Doctor
A high proportion of nerve damage detection’s tend to arrive during investigations into other conditions. Those who have suffered extreme trauma will have their nerves examined as a matter of course, but often it can appear completely unexpectedly. You should consider visiting a doctor or physiotherapist if you experience:
Sudden shooting pain anywhere in the body
Weakened muscles (especially in extremities)
Ulcers & cuts that will not heal
Repeated tingling in certain parts of the body
Don’t forget that these symptoms may come and go. It is not unheard of for people experiencing the early stages of nerve damage to have very infrequent attacks – sometimes with weeks or even months in between. If you present with any/all of these symptoms you should expect to be quickly referred to a neurologist or physiotherapist.
Treating Nerve Pain
Once a nerve problem has been identified it is time to broach the tricky issue of appropriate treatment. In cases of peripheral neuropathy where the damage is clearly associated with another factor (for example diabetes) then treatment will be geared towards that direction. In the case of diabetes that would involve eating a better diet, cutting down on sugar/alcohol/smoking and engaging in a generally healthier lifestyle.
Yet in many cases, nerve damage is not nearly so ‘simple’ to treat. In most cases – and especially with trigeminal neuralgia – conventional painkillers simply do not work. There are neuropathic pain agents that help to limit the severity of attacks but may have considerably less success in reducing their frequency. Some success has been found with drugs more commonly used as anticonvulsants for the treatment of epilepsy, but these seem only to work for a limited length of time. Speak to a medical doctor about alternative solutions to medicine and ask about holipathetic relief.
One aspect of nerve damage that is universally recommended tends to revolve around how physiotherapy can help. It is important to continue exercising muscles even though they may act as ‘triggers’ (especially for those suffering from trigeminal neuralgia). Physical therapy can considerably assist with keeping people active and limiting the extent that damage may spread to healthy nerves.
No matter what form the nerve damage may present itself, treatment must be undertaken as quickly as possible. People who ignore what may seem benign or inconsequential nerve damage that causes little if any pain may become seriously damaged without realizing until it is too late. Nerve damage can hugely inhibit the cardiovascular system and lead to infections that become gangrenous.
Don’t wait to be seen by a medical doctor!
Nerve damage is one of those conditions where it is essential to take immediate and positive steps to prevent the disease from spreading. While there are remedial treatments available and they can work well when properly administered and coordinated, living with severe nerve damage is challenging to say the least. Yet despite it receiving nowhere close to the attention that other serious conditions receive, many people do manage to find ways of coping with the damage, even in extreme cases such as the thankfully less common trigeminal neuralgia.
Should you be diagnosed with a nerve damage problem then it is essential to not rule out any kind of treatment.
Physiotherapy alongside a host of other helping techniques can play a major role in learning how to manage the condition. Learn more by reaching out to us.