What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

An estimated 25 to 30 percent of Americans will be affected by peripheral neuropathy. Although the condition affects people of all ages, it is more common in adults over 65 years. It causes symptoms like tingling, loss of sensation, and painful cramps and can itself be brought on by heavy alcohol use, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Some underlying causes of neuropathy can be treated but the condition is not usually curable. Consequently, Glen Rock neuropathy treatment is aimed at managing pain and symptoms and preventing further nerve damage. Here is a breakdown of this condition, its causes, symptoms, and more.

 Definition of Neuropathy

Often called peripheral neuropathy, neuropathy refers to damage within the peripheral nervous system. This is a network of nerves located outside the spinal cord and brain – your central nervous system. When nerve cells or neurons in this area are destroyed or damaged, there is a disruption in how they communicate with each other and the brain, otherwise called neuropathy.

Neuropathy can affect one nerve type or nerve, several nerves in a limited area, or many nerves across the body. It typically causes pain, muscle weakness, tingling, and numbness in the affected area and often starts in the hands and feet.

What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy can be genetic or caused by another health condition or injury. Diabetes is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy but other conditions can be at fault, including:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Other diseases like liver and kidney disease
  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bone marrow disorders
  • Tumors

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

Symptoms of neuropathy will depend on the type of neuropathy you have and the affected part of the body. They tend to range from minor symptoms like numbness and tingling in some body parts to severe conditions like paralysis and burning pain. They include:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone and muscle loss
  • Nail, hair, and skin changes
  • Loss of sensation or pain and resultant loss of function and balance.
  • Sleep disruptions and emotional disturbances
  • Heat intolerance due to the inability to sweat properly
  • Loss of bladder control, resulting in incontinence and infection

Because peripheral neuropathy symptoms are often similar to other medical conditions, you should always get a proper diagnosis before seeking treatment.

How Is Neuropathy Treated?

Peripheral neuropathy cannot usually be cured but you can manage your symptoms. When you visit a healthcare provider, they will determine if any underlying condition is at fault and then treat it first. Other treatments will be aimed at alleviating your pain and other neuropathy symptoms. Mild cases can be resolved through over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medication.

In most cases, your doctor will recommend physical therapy to promote movement and your body’s natural healing abilities. You may also be advised to quit smoking and practice better wound and foot management to avoid more complications. If you have muscle weakness, non-prescription foot and hand braces can help improve movement.  Relaxation techniques can address emotional symptoms.

Neuropathy is an often painful and debilitating condition but it doesn’t have to be. At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine, Steven Ferrer, MD, and Kevin McElroy DO provide expert neuropathy care to help you manage your symptoms. Contact the Glen Rock, New Jersey office to learn how you can benefit from treatments like physical therapy and pain management.

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