Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition even though the symptoms may be relatively mild if the condition is diagnosed early enough. 

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Left untreated, those aches and pains from Peripheral Neuropathy will become steadily worse and eventually lead to serious – possibly irreversible – nerve and tissue damage. The good news (and there is plenty!) is that our understanding of peripheral neuropathy and how to treat and manage these symptoms effectively is far better compared to just ten or twenty years ago. Providing people take proactive efforts to treat their condition the worst effects can be avoided. This article will look to explain some of the most common questions and misconceptions regarding peripheral neuropathy and how the most effective treatment programs work.

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What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

We encounter patients in Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach with peripheral neuropathy problems regularly.

Peripheral neuropathy is a term used to describe a host of disorders that damage the peripheral nervous system. Arms, legs, hands, feet, joints, internal organs, parts of the face and other regions can all be affected. There are many potential causes for this damage and quite often it can be a combination of factors. Among the most common would include:

  • Diabetes

  • Inflammation

  • Infections & Autoimmune Diseases

  • Hereditary Disorders

  • Physical Trauma

  • Inadequate Nutrition

  • Alcoholism

  • Kidney Failure

What are the Key Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms? 

Symptoms can present themselves at any age although many people are diagnosed from age 40 and onwards. Pain is the most obvious and common symptom and often begins with quite innocuous issues. These may be constant or periodic, sharp/throbbing/freezing/shooting pains, in specific places or in more general areas. In some cases, pain may take many years to become worse, while in others the decline can be very sudden. Key symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Pains as discussed

  • Loss of balance/awareness (even if only fleeting)

  • Muscle wasting and weakness

  • Irregular blood pressure and heartbeat

  • Spontaneous sweating

  • Pronounced sensitivity

  • Sleeping issues caused by discomfort

  • Non-existent ‘pressures’ or ‘compactness’ around the extremities

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What are the Major Different Forms? 

There are three main subdivisions used to categorize peripheral neuropathy diagnosis. These relate to the kinds of nerves which are causing the problem, and sometimes there can be a crossover between them:

Motor Nerves: Pains related to mobility and flexibility such as walking, lifting, catching, and so forth. These are often accompanied by a decline in strength and balance.

Sensory Nerves: Associated with how we detect texture, heat/cold, rough/smooth, etc. These kinds of nerve damage are most commonly associated with tingling pain, numbness, and ultra-sensitivity.

Automatic Nerves: This form described automatic/involuntary bodily processes such as the circulatory system and digestive tract. Common issues involve sweating problems, nausea/diarrhea/constipation, dizziness, sexual dysfunction, and irregular heartbeat.

What are the Available Treatments?

Peripheral neuropathy is best treated through a variety of clinical and secondary treatments. While medications can help mask the pain, they do little to prevent it from becoming worse over time. Patients can substantially benefit from:

  • Improving nutrition and lifestyle choices

  • Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake

  • Regular and effective exercise

  • Massage therapy

  • Acupuncture

  • Managed physical therapy

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