Peripheral Neuropathy stems from damaged peripheral nerves. The damage manifests as weakness, pain, balance issues, numbness and tingling in the extremities, affecting the hands and feet. Further, symptoms can also manifest as swelling, discoloration of hands and feet, ankles and hands. A person’s peripheral nervous system continuously sends information from the brain, spinal cord, and your nervous system. This system becomes damaged due to injuries, metabolic issues, and inherited conditions. Pain can be debilitating, with sufferers describing it as a stabbing, almost tingling sensation that can be overwhelming if left untreated.
Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by inherited causes, traumatic injuries, metabolic abnormalities, or exposure to certain toxins. Diabetes mellitus is the most common cause of this condition. Pain due to peripheral neuropathy can be either tingling, stabbing, or burning. In most cases, medications can successfully reduce the burning pain caused by peripheral neuropathy, especially if it’s as a result of a treatable condition.
Common Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
- This condition can be debilitating; besides having severe symptoms, it can effect balance, stability, thus causing one to fall.
- If left untreated, the condition will get worse with time. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by neck or back issues, such as: stenosis, arthritis, disc hernia/bulge. In some instances, patients with peripheral neuropathy will have no neck or back symptoms.
- Muscle weakness and paralysis
- Numbness, tingling, and loss of feeling
What are the Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy?
Most instances of neuropathy are either inherited (generic) or acquired. Acquired neuropathies are often caused as a result of another disorder or condition, but at times the causes are idiopathic (of no known cause). Causes of acquired peripheral neuropathy include vitamin/nutritional deficiencies, medication, trauma (physical injury), infections, alcoholism, autoimmune disorders (RA, Lupus), diabetes (approxiamately 50% of diabetics will acquire peripheral neuropathy), Guillain-barre syndrome, exposure to poisons (heavy metal chemicals), chemotherapy, infections (shingles, lyme disease, epstein-barr virus, hepatitis C, leprosy, diphtheria, HIV), inherited disorders (charcot-marie-tooth disease), trauma/pressure on the nerves (motor vehicle accidents, falls, injuries, using crutches/cast, repeated motions), tumors/cancers, vitamin deficiency, bone marrow disorder, idiopathetic, other disorders of the liver, kidneys, thyroid.. Fortunately, modern treatment can provide relief even to people with idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.
Our Approach to Treating Peripheral Neuropathy
The type of treatment depends entirely on the type of nerve damage, its location, and symptoms. Though there is a wide array of conventional treatment options, many people opt to go for medication. Most common drugs prescribed to alleviate the symptoms include Neurontin, Cymbalta, Gabapentin, and Lyrica. The downside to using prescribed medication is that they interact with all the patients’ nerve system. There is always a possibility that they may only temporarily relieve the pain and fail to treat the underlying condition.
Laser therapy is a new technique to treat peripheral neuropathy, as it focuses on improving and revitalizing damaged nerves. It has become a more common solution in recent years as it is noninvasive, yet very effective way to treat this condition. People suffering from peripheral neuropathy respond well to laser therapy as it focuses on their pain. Patients who have undergone laser therapy have shown a tremendous reduction in symptoms with each session, and a signifcant improvement of the use of their extremities.