Getting past peripheral neuropathy is possible but doing so requires medical therapies, lifestyle changes, and self-care measures as well as treatment of the underlying medical condition. Getting past nerve damage also means being free from the numbness, tingling or burning pain, and loss of sensation.
Several factors cause neuropathies so your doctor may have initial difficulty in identifying the specific causes in your case. Your physician will then ask relevant questions about aspects of your life pertaining to:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol. This leads to poor dietary choices and, thus, vitamin deficiencies (i.e., B vitamins and Vitamin E) that lead to nerve damage. This is also true for individuals who make poor dietary choices or who are prone to vitamin deficiencies due to disorders.
- Exposure to toxins like heavy metals (i.e., mercury) and medications including chemotherapy drugs.
- Certain autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to neuropathies.
- Diabetes. It leads to nerve damage, too, which explains the high incidence of peripheral neuropathy in diabetics.
- Trauma, pressure and injury to the nerves such as through repetitive motions (i.e., typing), sports injuries, and plaster cast usage for prolonged periods.
- Tumors exerting direct or indirect pressure on the nerves
Your doctor will also use standard and special diagnostic procedures to determine the exact causes for your neuropathy. Keep in mind that the underlying medical condition must be addressed first so that your symptoms can be relieved.
The location of the symptoms of neuropathy largely depends on the nerves affected. These nerves include:
- Sensory nerves receiving sensations of touch including heat and cold as well as pleasure and pain
- Autonomic nerves controlling certain functions in the cardiovascular, digestive, and excretory systems
- Motor nerves controlling the muscles
In most cases, peripheral neuropathy first affects the longest nerves specifically the ones reaching to your toes. You will observe that your symptoms started gradually but radiated to your legs and arms with each episode often more painful than the last. Your symptoms can include limb numbness, burning pain, and tingling sensations as well as extreme sensitivity to the touch akin to the pins-and-needles sensation.
In severe cases, you will also suffer from lack of muscle coordination and muscle weakness in case the motor nerves are affected as well as bowel or bladder issues when the autonomic nerves are involved. Unfortunately, peripheral neuropathy can affect two or more nerves in different areas.
Don’t wait for your symptoms to worsen before seeking medical attention. The earlier your symptoms are treated, the better your prognosis.
Your doctor will adopt several treatment protocols to address any underlying condition and to relieve your symptoms. These include:
- Medications like over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers, anti-seizure drugs, and antidepressants as well as topical applications containing capsaicin and lidocaine.
- Medical therapies like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
- Self-care measures like taking good care of your feet, engaging in cardio exercises, and eating healthy meals. Most important, quit smoking and lessen alcohol consumption. Massaging your feet and hands will also relieve your symptoms because it improves blood circulation. Avoid activities that involve repetitive motions, too, or at least, give your hands and feet a rest.
With these treatments, you should be rid of peripheral neuropathy soon enough.