What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral Neuropathy affects the peripheral nervous system, which is the vast communication network responsible for transmitting signals to and from the brain throughout the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to these nerves and causes distortion and miscommunication of signals from the brain to various organ systems, arms, or legs. This condition affects 20 million Americans, and most are unaware that they have the condition. It’s the perfect week to educate you and your family about the symptoms and treatment methods available.
Peripheral Neuropathy most commonly affects the sensory nerves of your arms and legs. Numbness or tingling in fingers or toes, abnormal sensations, loss of balance, or pain in extremity regions characterizes neuropathy. The sensations are usually more severe at night and can be constant or periodic, but pain is usually felt on both sides of the body. Peripheral neuropathy is often described as having a “glove and stocking” distribution of symptoms because the symptoms are often present in the areas covered by gloves or stockings. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common example of neuropathy. In addition, the autonomic nerves can be affected that control bodily functions that we do not consciously think of, such as heart rate, digestion, and emptying of the bowel and bladder. Autonomic neuropathy manifests with symptoms affecting the loss of control of these functions.
There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy, which include:
- diabetes mellitus
- kidney failure
- vitamin deficiency
- chronic alcoholism
- autoimmune disorders like lupus
- poor nutrition
If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek testing and treatment from a neurologist, a doctor that specializes in treatment of your nervous system. Your neurologist will take a detailed medical history, physical examination, and neurological exam. Your physician may request a blood test, nerve conduction study or other tests. A proper diagnosis is the most important part of taking control of neuropathy and your health. With an early diagnosis, it can often be controlled and quality of life restored. There are many treatment options available such as medication management, over-the-counter pain medications, alternative therapies, nerve blocks and spinal cord stimulators.
Dr. Mahyar Okhovat, a neurologist at Pain Management & Injury Relief Medical Center, is trained to properly diagnosis and provide treatment options for peripheral neuropathy. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Okhovat today to find a treatment method right for you!