- Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment
- But what is the connection to diabetes?
- What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
- What symptoms to watch out for?
- But what causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
- How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?
- What is Peripheral Nerve Damage?
- What are the treatment options for Peripheral Neuropathy?
- Can you prevent Peripheral Neuropathy?
- In closing
Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the peripheral nervous system, which is responsible for sending signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. This condition can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet, as well as other parts of the body.
In this article, I will explain what peripheral neuropathy is, its causes, how bad it can get, and the available treatments.
But what is the connection to diabetes?
Diabetes is one of the risk factors for peripheral neuropathy. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2014. I learned more about this condition when I started experiencing a combination of numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in my hands and feet. And I can tell you that it is uncomfortable. Can you imagine not feeling a wound on your foot? And that wound getting worse because you have no idea it is there?
Fortunately, I am not there yet because I work hard to keep my blood sugar levels under control.
However, diabetes is not the only risk factor. There’s more.
Let’s begin with:
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. This condition can affect different types of nerves, including sensory, motor, and autonomic nerves. Sensory nerves transmit sensations, such as touch, pain, and temperature, while motor nerves control movement. Autonomic nerves control involuntary functions, such as heart rate and digestion.
What symptoms to watch out for?
Peripheral neuropathy can cause a wide range of symptoms and this depends on which nerves are affected. Some of the most common symptoms include numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the hands and feet. Other symptoms are muscle weakness, difficulty walking, and loss of coordination.
But what causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes include:
- Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy. High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves over time, leading to peripheral neuropathy.
- Trauma: Trauma, such as a car accident or sports injury, can damage the peripheral nerves and lead to peripheral neuropathy.
- Infections: Certain infections, such as shingles and HIV, can damage the nerves and lead to peripheral neuropathy.
- Toxicity: Exposure to certain toxins, such as heavy metals and chemotherapy drugs, can damage the peripheral nerves and lead to peripheral neuropathy.
- Autoimmune disorders: Some autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can damage the nerves and lead to peripheral neuropathy.
How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?
Peripheral neuropathy can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of nerve damage. In mild cases, peripheral neuropathy may only cause occasional tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. In severe cases, however, peripheral neuropathy can lead to complete loss of sensation and muscle function in the affected area.
Peripheral neuropathy can also have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. The pain and discomfort associated with peripheral neuropathy can make it difficult to perform daily activities, such as walking, dressing, and eating. In some cases, the condition can also lead to depression and anxiety.
What is Peripheral Nerve Damage?
Peripheral nerve damage can be due to various factors, including those mentioned above. The extent of the damage can vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, peripheral nerve damage can be temporary and may heal on its own over time. Sometimes, the damage may be permanent and require ongoing treatment and management.
What are the treatment options for Peripheral Neuropathy?
The goal is to manage the underlying condition, relieve symptoms, and prevent further nerve damage. Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, you’ll need a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Some common treatments for peripheral neuropathy are
- Medication: There are several medications that can be used to relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, including pain relievers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve muscle strength and coordination, as well as reduce pain and discomfort. This works for me.
- Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, can help manage underlying conditions, such as diabetes, that can lead to peripheral neuropathy. I fully endorse this as I follow this.
- Alternative therapies: Some people with peripheral neuropathy may benefit from alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and herbal supplements. However, make sure to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any alternative therapy.
- Wearing neuropathy socks: It is important to take care of your feet when you have peripheral neuropathy because this condition can affect the nerves that control sensation and movement in your feet and legs. As I mentioned earlier, you may not be able to feel pain or other sensations in your feet, making it difficult to detect injuries or other problems. As a result, small problems like blisters or cuts can go unnoticed and turn into serious infections or ulcers that can lead to amputation.
When I first consulted my doctor about the numbness in my feet and hands, she suggested neuropathy socks. This helps manage the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy by elevating pressure in the feet and legs, besides keeping feet dry & warm, improving circulation & providing protection.
Can you prevent Peripheral Neuropathy?
While it may not always be possible to prevent peripheral neuropathy, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition. Some of these steps include:
- Managing underlying conditions: If you have a condition that increases your risk of peripheral neuropathy, such as diabetes, it is important to manage the condition as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Avoiding toxins: If you work with chemicals or other toxins, be sure to follow proper safety procedures to avoid exposure.
- Wearing protective gear: If you participate in sports or other activities that increase your risk of injury, be sure to wear appropriate protective gear.
- Eating a healthy diet: A diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients can help keep your nerves healthy and reduce your risk of peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a common condition with a range of symptoms, from mild tingling to severe pain and muscle weakness. While there is no cure for peripheral neuropathy, there are several treatment options available that can help manage symptoms and prevent further nerve damage. If you are experiencing symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, please consult with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. By taking steps to prevent peripheral neuropathy and manage underlying conditions, you can help protect your nerves and maintain your quality of life.
This article is purely for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your doctor for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.