- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Neuropathy is characterized by an ailment where a patient bears peripheral nerve damage beneath another disease. It is a disorder of the sensory, motor and autonomic nerves linking the spinal cord to the internal organs of the body as well as the muscles and the skin. Most of the areas affected by neuropathy are the feet, hands, and arms. The symptom is manifested by the weakening of the muscles especially in the feet with numbness, pain, burning or tingling feeling.
About 20 million Americans agonize with this illness. It can affect any age group from children to adults although it is commonly diagnosed in people who are around 40 years old and above. Neuropathy is often misdiagnosed and thought to be an adverse effect of other diseases like cancer and diabetes. Although it is easy to identify neuropathy as set by pain it is difficult to treat because its causes are remarkably unknown.
The human nerves are delicate passages where the body sends electrical facts amidst the brain and the senses. One of the essential nerves comes from the spinal cord which detects movements and other body sensation. In the event of damage, its ability to sense will diminish. When this happens the electrical impulses will not be transferred from one nerve cell to another.
The way to diagnose neuropathy is generally based on neuropathies symptoms but many of neuropathy cases pertain to painful peripheral neuropathy. As soon as the cause of neuropathy is detected the treatment will be coursed through its source. Neuropathy when diagnosed sooner will have a better chance of controlling it and prevents its severity. Nonetheless, the progress of some types of neuropathy is slow but it can lead to become extremely damaging.
The basic diagnostic procedure commence from taking the full medical history of the patient. It involves the physical and neurological assessment to test the tone and strength of the muscles. It includes urinalysis, thyroid functions tests, examination of tendon reflexes, checking of the posture and coordination. Another crucial part of the evaluation is to conduct blood tests in order to decipher the vitamin B-12 level. The examination may also require nerve biopsy.
Neuropathy Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of peripheral nerve damage rely on many factors. There are questions of what causes nerve damage, what nerves are affected and where they are located. It can be the autonomic, sensory or motor. Numerous types of neuropathy strike all these nerves. If the sensory nerve is damaged it can cause diverse symptoms like tingling feeling with pain and numbness. It has an electrifying feeling similar to either burning or freezing sensations.
When the motor nerve is damaged it leaves a weak muscle having some spasms or cramps. The tendency of this type of damage is loss of balance and coordination of the legs. Generally, patient who has this peripheral nerve damage symptoms have difficulty to either walk or run as they may stumble or become tired right away.
If the damage is on the autonomic nerve thus called autonomic neuropathy, the internal organs are affected. It can result to irregular blood pressure and heart rate, constipation or diarrhea.
Have you been diagnosed for Peripheral Neuropathy
Treatment of Neuropathy
The treatment for peripheral neuropathy pain comes in various types like creams, medicinal drugs, diet program and therapies. Preferred treatment to neuropathy is antidepressants as it gives comfort to neuropathic pain. Another classification of medicine that is generally prescribed for neuropathy patients is anticonvulsants. Because of its property to block calcium channels it can reduce the peripheral nerve pain.
Lidocaine patch is also used on some types of neuropathy. It has an anesthetic called lidocaine which prevents the nerve impulses that signals the pain to the brain. Capsaicin is another topical analgesic which acts as pain reliever. It is prepared as pain relief cream which is applied directly to the skin.
Acupuncture pain relief is another therapeutic alternative for peripheral neuropathy. It is a procedure involving the penetrating of skin using needles either manually or through electrical stimulation. It originated from a traditional Chinese medicine and is known in the world as one of the oldest healing practice.
Cognitive therapy is another peripheral neuropathy pain treatment which helps the patient in changing beliefs, analyse a disorganized thoughts and altering behaviours. The treatment happens with the cooperation of the patient with the therapist. Chiropractic massage is also a type of therapy for neuropathy that helps relax the muscles. Yoga and meditation are also options in the neuropathic pain relief. Dietary supplements like alpha lipoic can likewise help treat neuropathy.
Mechanical aids are also available to achieve nerve pain relief and reduce the effect of being physically disabled. As muscle pain relief, braces for foot and hand can be used as support which can also lessen the nerve pressure. With the help of orthopaedic shoes gait disturbances can also be improved. However, surgery is the best treatment for mononeuropathy, a type of neuropathy that is caused by an injury.
Alternative Medicine for Peripheral Neuropathy
One of the most promising alternative medicines to ease the pain of peripheral neuropathy is acupuncture. It is found to be effective in managing peripheral neuropathy. Acupuncture use sterile needles that are inserted in the pressure points of the body and decrease the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Several sessions may be required to notice the results of acupuncture. It realigns the energy of the body known as qi in Chinese. Yoga and Tai chi support this idea and promote relaxation. Although temporary it may divert the feeling of pain.
Herbal supplements are among the alternatives in treating the causes of peripheral neuropathy. When taken orally there is a big chance of diminishing the causes of neuropathic pain although topical creams with capsaicin, a component in chilli peppers helps in reducing the burning neuropathic pain attacks.
Biofeedback is a method which can be used in controlling the functions of the body like the heart rate. Biofeedback has electrical sensors which help in receiving information or feedback concerning the body. It monitors the physiological responses of the body to the symptoms of neuropathic pain. The device directs how the body must respond through beeping cues or flashing lights. The feedback associates the responses of the body with some physical functions. This helps in decreasing the responses using techniques like relaxation.
Biofeedback can enhance the performance of the body when patterns of emotions, thoughts and behaviour change. Biofeedback is an effective way of treating not only the cause of neuropathic pain but also migraines or headaches.