Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment in Wittman, MD
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder which occurs due to damage to the peripheral nerves and is characterized by weakness, tingling, and burning pain that primarily affects the hands and feet; however, it can potentially impact other parts of the body. It has been estimated that over 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathies can present in a variety of different forms. Your symptoms may vary depending on the type of peripheral nerves affected—sensory, motor or autonomic nerves. Treatment for peripheral neuropathy is available and often begins with addressing the specific underlying cause. Medication is also commonly prescribed to help reduce any pain.
To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Wittman who specializes in peripheral neuropathy treatment, call (410) 266-3613 or contact Dr. Alan Stuart Weiss online.
Peripheral Neuropathy Causes
The peripheral nervous system is part of a large communication network that relays information between the central nervous system (CNS)—made up of the brain and spinal cord—to every part of the body. The peripheral nerves send information back to the brain, such as the feet are cold or hot. The peripheral nerves also send signals from the CNS to the muscles to help initiate movement. Damage to the peripheral nerves compromises this communication, and can occur to a single nerve group, several nerve groups or even affect the nerves throughout the entire body.
Peripheral neuropathy can result from a variety of underlying causes. The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is type 2 diabetes. As many as 50 percent of people with diabetes will experience some form of neuropathy, known as diabetic neuropathy. Other peripheral neuropathy causes include:
- Traumatic injury
- Benign tumors
- Metabolic conditions
- Autoimmune disease
- Kidney failure
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Toxin exposure
- Side effects from certain medications or treatments like chemotherapy
Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary depending on whether the sensory, motor or autonomic nerves experience damage.
The most commonly experienced symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. Additional peripheral neuropathy symptoms include:
- Burning pain
- Muscle wasting
- Sexual dysfunction
- Poor digestion
- Sensitivity to touch
- Poor coordination
- Changes in blood pressure
- Excessive sweating
These symptoms may develop over a period of a day, weeks, or even years. In acute cases, symptoms can appear suddenly, progress rapidly, and diminish slowly as the nerves heal. In chronic cases, symptoms begin subtly and progress slowly. Chronic neuropathies may worsen over time if left unchecked.
Diagnosing Peripheral Neuropathy
To diagnose and treat peripheral neuropathy, your healthcare practitioner will review your full medical history which examines your symptoms, exposure to toxins, diet, lifestyle, drinking habits, and family medical history. He or she will use this investigation to help determine an underlying potential cause of your neuropathy.
Your healthcare provider may also perform a neurological examination which assesses your gait, coordination, posture, tendon reflexes, and ability to feel sensations, particularly in the areas of the hands and feet.
Blood tests can also be ordered to look for vitamin deficiencies and examine glucose levels, immune function, and other biomarkers that may be associated with peripheral neuropathy. Additional tests can also be performed for more advanced cases of peripheral neuropathy, including an imaging test such as a CT scan or MRI, nerve function tests, and nerve biopsies.
Treating Peripheral Neuropathy
Correcting the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy often results in a resolution of neuropathy as the nerves are allowed time to recover and regenerate. In addition to treating conditions associated with peripheral neuropathy, medications are available to help relieve peripheral neuropathy pain, including:
- Pain relievers: Over-the-counter medications and anti-inflammatory drugs can help control moderate pain. Prescription pain medication may also be prescribed for more severe cases.
- Anti-seizure medications: Medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin can help to alleviate nerve pain.
- Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline can help relieve nerve pain by modifying the chemicals in your brain that allow you to feel pain.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend certain medical treatments such as plasmapheresis or transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS). Plasmapheresis involves the removal of blood which is cleansed of antibodies and then returned to the body. TENS involves the use of electrodes placed on the skin which sends small amounts of electricity to the body to disrupt pain signals to the brain.
Surgery may be required for individuals that have tumors that are putting pressure on nerves.
Lifestyle Recommendations for Peripheral Neuropathy
Following a healthy lifestyle, maintaining optimal weight, avoiding exposure to toxins, limiting or avoiding alcohol, and consuming a healthy diet can encourage healthy nerve regeneration. Smoking cessation is also crucial because smoking constricts blood vessels that supply crucial nutrients to the peripheral nerves.
Since various vitamin deficiencies have been linked to the development of peripheral neuropathy, it is important to undergo blood testing to evaluate your levels of B1, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and vitamin E. Supplementing certain vitamins can support healthy nerve function, including:
- B complex vitamins
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Acetyl L-carnitine
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Malabsorption of nutrients may also be present, particularly in individuals that suffer from gastrointestinal conditions. B vitamin shots or intravenous nutrient repletion may be required for those that are not able to properly absorb vitamins through oral supplementation. Additionally, capsaicin—found in hot peppers—can be applied topically to help relieve nerve pain and tingling.
Relief from peripheral neuropathy is possible. The earlier the condition and the underlying causes are addressed, the greater the ability the body has to recover from the condition. Meet with a healthcare practitioner in Wittman who can help restore your nerve function and eliminate the pain and discomfort caused by peripheral neuropathy. Call (410) 266-3613 or contact Dr. Alan Stuart Weiss online.
Annapolis Integrative Medicine
Address1819 Bay Ridge Ave
Annapolis, MD 21403