Peripheral Neuropathy – What is it?

January 16, 2023

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system are the nerves that extend from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. These nerves control movement and sensation. When they are damage it can lead to a wide range of symptoms. These include pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and muscle wasting.
There are many different causes of peripheral neuropathy. Some of the common reasons include diabetes, alcoholism, exposure to certain toxins. Medical conditions such as cancer and HIV can also cause it. In some cases, the cause of the neuropathy is unknown.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can vary depending on the specific nerves affected. Some people may experience pain, numbness, or tingling in their hands or feet. Others may have weakness or muscle wasting in these areas. The severity can also vary by person.
Diagnosis involves a series of tests, such as nerve conduction studies and electromyography. These tests can help to determine the extent and location of the nerve damage. You might find out that in fact your symptoms are not being cause by damage to your nerves.
Treatment for peripheral neuropathy often depends on the underlying cause of the condition. In some cases, treating the underlying condition may be enough to improve symptoms. For example, controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes can help to slow or prevent further nerve damage. Other treatments may include medications to relieve pain and discomfort, physical therapy to help preserve muscle strength and function, and nerve stimulation to improve nerve function.
In cases where the cause of the neuropathy is unknown or cannot be treated, symptom management is the main focus of treatment. Medications such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and opioids can be used to help manage pain. Topical creams and patches can also provide some pain relief.
Physical therapy, occupational therapy and massage can also help to reduce pain and improve mobility. In severe cases, where pain is not manageable with conventional therapies, alternative therapies such as acupuncture and spinal cord stimulation may be considered.
It’s important to note that peripheral neuropathy is a progressive condition, which means that it will continue to get worse over time if left untreated. It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you may have the condition so that appropriate treatment can be started.

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