Neuropathy is also known as peripheral nerve neuropathy. It occurs when one or more nerves stop functioning normally. Neuropathy can be caused by many things, such as diabetes, trauma, nerve injury or illness, and medications. The cause and the nerves involved will determine what symptoms you experience.
We will discuss neuropathy, its diagnosis and treatment, and what steps should you take if you are at high risk.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Diabetes is the most common cause. PN can be experienced by as many as 60%- 70% of those with diabetes.
PN can also be caused by diabetes. There are also other causes:
- Trauma: A cut, injury, or fracture can directly cause nerve damage. It can also happen during procedures like surgery.
- Injuries: Vascular diseases, infections, vitamin deficiencies, and alcohol abuse can all lead to PN.
- Medications: Common offenders include chemotherapy, blood pressure medication, and antibiotics.
- Rare causes
What Symptoms Are There For Peripheral Neuropathy?
Different people may experience different symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Because symptoms vary depending on the type, number, and location of peripheral nerves affected, this is why they can feel different for different people.
These are the most common symptoms:
- Tingling, numbness, or pins-and-needles sensations
- Touch sensitiveness that causes pain
- Perception or loss of sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Sometimes called “muscle wasting”, it is a loss of muscle.
These symptoms may be more severe at night. Other types of neuropathy may be experienced by people who have peripheral neuropathy. Some of these symptoms include dizziness, heat intolerance, and emotional changes.
What Is The Diagnosis Of Peripheral Neuropathy?
Often, PN is diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms, history, and physical examination. Sometimes tests may be necessary to rule out other conditions. These tests can include bloodwork, spinal fluid tests, and imaging.
You can also take tests to test nerve function.
- Nerve conduction studies can help determine which nerves have been damaged.
- Electromyography (EMG) This test looks at nerve function and muscle function. It can help to determine if weakness is caused by a problem in the nerve or the muscle.
- A neurodiagnostic dermatologic skin biopsy is used to diagnose peripheral neuropathy. This can be very helpful for small nerve fibers.
What Treatments Are Available For Peripheral Neuropathy?
The cause of peripheral neuropathy is usually what determines the treatment. Rehabilitation may be helpful if PN is due to an injury. Braces and splints can be used to maintain an orthopedic position, which reduces nerve pressure. This may improve pain, numbness, or weakness. Nerve damage or compression can also be treated with surgery with the help of South Valley Neurology.
Sometimes, medication-related PN can be treated by stopping the medication. This will often lead to better symptoms. This is also true for PN due to diabetes and autoimmune diseases. Although it may not be possible to cure the underlying condition, it is possible to improve symptoms and prevent PN from getting worse.
Many medications can be used to treat PN pain. Certain medications can be used to relieve “neuropathic pain,” which is a condition that results from nerve damage. These medications include Gabapentin, Neurontin, and Pregabalin (Lyrica). Antidepressants, seizure medication, and local anesthetics can all be helpful in certain cases.
Other non-medication options are available for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. These include acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and acupuncture. These treatments might be useful for certain people. However, more research is required, especially for TENS therapy.
What Are The Best Ways To Prevent Peripheral Neuropathy?
You can prevent peripheral neuropathy by:
- Any medical condition that could cause nerve damage (diabetes) should be treated.
- If you are not required to, avoid taking any medications known to cause neuropathy.
- Before you decide to have one, talk to your healthcare team about the risk of nerve injury caused by a medical procedure.
- Keep a healthy lifestyle and don’t drink too much alcohol. Some peripheral neuropathies can be caused by vitamin deficiencies and excessive alcohol consumption.