Neuropathy affects approximately 25 – 30 % of people of all ages in the United States. The specialists at Axon Health Associates offer effective treatment options for neuropathy relief. We customize our treatment plans to cater to your unique needs.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, often called peripheral neuropathy, is the damage to one or more nerves. Neuropathy is caused by damaged nerves of cells called the neurons. The nerves (peripheral nerves) are located outside the brain and spinal cord and send sensory information to the central nervous system.
If the nerves are damaged, they cause numbness, pain, burning, tingling, and electric shock sensations in the hands and feet. Circulation, and digestion, can also be affected. Older people are at a higher risk, and the most common risk factor is diabetes. Neuropathy can also result from the following conditions:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Lyme’s disease
- Kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Exposure to toxins, such as mercury and arsenic
- Vitamin deficiency, particularly B12 and folate
- Viral infections (such as herpes)
The peripheral nervous system comprises three types of nerves, each keeping the body functioning correctly. The nerves are classified as:
- The motor nerves: Controls muscle movements
- The sensory nerves: Involve the senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch. They communicate to the brain sensations like pain, vibration, and texture
- Autonomic nerve: Controls function out of your direct control, like perspiration, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and bladder.
Peripheral nerves can affect one nerve (mononeuropathy), two or more nerves in different areas (multiple mononeuropathies), or many nerves (polyneuropathy). Some cases can be easily treated and even cured, but treatment controls and manages the symptoms and prevents further nerve damage where they cannot be fixed. The conditions depend on the type of nerve that has been damaged and the underlying cause.
Symptoms vary depending on the types and location of nerves. Some are sudden (acute neuropathy), and others develop slowly over time. (chronic neuropathy). Symptoms may include:
- Tingling (pins and needles) sensation
- Numbness and weakness
- Cramping and paralysis of motor nerves
- Problem with coordination
- Difficulty walking and poor balance
- Over sensitivity to touch
- Heat intolerance and excessive sweating
- Bowel, bladder, and digestive problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sharp, burning, throbbing, or jabbing pain
- Weight loss
- Drops in blood pressure causing dizziness or lightheadedness
In some cases, there is no known cause. Diabetes is the most common factor, with a high percentage of people having the condition. It causes small fiber neuropathy, a condition with a painful burning sensation in the hands and feet.
Other causes include:
- Trauma from injuries caused by falls, accidents, fractures, sports, repetitive stress, compressions of nerves, and narrowing of the space through which nerves run.
- Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Guillian-Barre
- Inherited disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) and Familial amyloidosis.
- Infections. Viral/bacterial infections like Lyme infections, shingles, HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis B and C.
- Alcohol and poor diet function set diet leading to vitamin deficiency and lack of thiamine and essential nutrients for the nerve.
- Medications and poisons like cancer medications (including radiation and chemotherapy), anti- seizures, HIV drugs, heavy metals like mercury, and industrial solvents.
- Poor feeding habits of Vitamin deficiencies like B1, B6, and B12 which are essential to nerve health
- Bone marrow disease or bone cancers
- Hormonal disorders
- Vascular disorders
Neuropathy Risk Factors
- Family history of neuropathy
- Obesity, cholesterol, high blood pressure
- Kidney and liver disease
- Poor nutrition
- Thyroid disorder
- Autoimmune disease
- Repetitive motions
- Exposure to toxins
- Limb amputations
- Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy
- Metabolic syndrome
Early diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent further damage. During your consultation, your doctor will take a detailed medical and family history and perform a physical examination. You may be asked questions about past and current medications, the symptoms experienced, whether you have been exposed to toxic substances and if there was any reaction. Additionally, your doctor may ask if you have undergone any trauma in the past or recently, the kind of diet you consume, if you exercise, and use alcohol.
Skin and nerve biopsies and neurologic examination to check reflexes may also be recommended. Coordination, balance, muscle strength, and sensational feelings might also be tested.
Other diagnostic tests that may be recommended include:
- MRI or CT scans
- Electrodiagnostic assessment (EDX)
- Nerve conduction study (NCS)
- Needle electromyography (EMG)
- Blood tests
- Genetic testing for hereditary disorders
Some cases are treatable once the underlying cause has been identified, while others require treatment to control, manage symptoms, and prevent further nerve damage. Treatment options may include:
- Medications for controlling pain such as:
- Narcotics and anti-seizure medication
- Topical patches and creams
- Physical therapy involves a combination of exercises to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility.
- Occupational therapy to help cope with pain and loss of function and learn new skills to help cope with stress.
- Proper nutritional habits such as consuming a healthy balanced diet.
- IV infusion treatments and oral medications stop the immune system from attacking the nerves.
- Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin.
- Mechanical aids such as braces, casts, and splints for support or specially designed shoes.
- Healthy living habits like avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and doing muscle exercises.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy to relieve pain and stop it from reaching the brain.
- Immune treatments.
- Nerve stimulation.
- Narcotics and anti-seizure medication
- Topical patches and creams
To improve nerve compressions for conditions such as herniated discs, tumors, diabetes, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Reversing the neuropathy is possible, but permanent damage is likely. The long-term outcome depends on the cause. The earlier the diagnosis, the faster the recovery, which takes months or years. Some people live with a certain degree of neuropathy for the rest of their life. To prevent neuropathy, you may:
Call Axon Health Associates today for more information about neuropathy and other conditions we treat, or schedule an appointment online.
- Try and manage conditions that put you at risk, like diabetes.
- Avoid smoking alcohol and smoking.
- Consume a diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Exercise regularly; at least 30 minutes a session.
- Take care of your feet and look out for blisters, sores, cracks, and redness.
- Avoid cluttering your floors.
- Consult your doctor before taking any new medicines, especially over-the-counter medications.
- Keep your feet dry, clip your toes and wear comfortably fitting shoes.