Neuropathy Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy is a term used to describe damage to any part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord. When a nerve becomes damaged, it restricts the information that passes between the brain and other parts of the body. This can affect muscle movements and the ability to receive sensations such as heat, pain, or even touch. When the nerves that transmit automatic functions are impaired, it can alter your heart rate, digestion, and the bladder.
When damage occurs to a single nerve the condition is defined as mononeuropathy. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a good example of this. Polyneuropathy is used to describe damage to multiple nerves and is a much more common condition.
Causes of Neuropathy
The easiest way to damage a nerve is through some form of physical trauma. Damage could also occur from a chronic condition that puts pressure on a nerve for extended periods of time. Here are some other conditions that could lead to neuropathy:
- Metabolic issues
- High blood pressure
- Autoimmune diseases
- Vitamin deficiencies
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Your nerves play a vital function in your sense of touch, muscle movement, and the involuntary processes of your body. Because of this, neuropathy can lead to a number of symptoms. Here are some of the most common:
- Numbness or pain in the hands and feet. This can eventually spread to the arms and legs
- Diminished feeling in the hands and fingers. Some patients describe the sensation as being similar to wearing a glove
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Burning pain
- Bowel or bladder problems
The first step your doctor will likely take in diagnosing neuropathy is to sit down with you to discuss the history of your symptoms. This consultation may be followed by a neurological exam to test your reflexes, coordination, and the ability to feel sensations. Your doctor may also perform a blood test to seek out possible infections that could be leading to your condition.
Your doctor might also request a CT scan or MRI to help determine if there is any damage to your muscles or other tissues. To test the function of your nerves, electromyography may also be performed.
The goal of neuropathy is to remove any pressure on the damaged nerve or nerve group so that they can heal. This can be accomplished with over the counter or prescription medications as well as corticosteroid injections designed to reduce swelling. Braces or splints may be used to limit overextension that could lead to further damage. To make the healing process smoother, and to help prevent future injury, your doctor may also recommend a physical therapy plan.
Here a few other techniques used to treat neuropathy:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
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