Neuropathy can be a difficult condition to manage, but it is not impossible! Here’s everything you need to know about neuropathy, including major symptoms, common causes, and treatment options for neuropathy.
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a type of chronic pain that is generally caused by pressure or damage to the nerves or spinal cord. Although there are many types of neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy is the most common. Peripheral neuropathy is most commonly caused by diabetes and is commonly known as Painful Diabetic Neuropathy or PDN. Some call is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy or DPN. Other causes can be thyroid related, trauma, imbalances in electrolytes, mineral and vitamin deficiencies, etc.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
There are several significant symptoms of neuropathy, each falling into one of three categories: motor control complications, nerve pain, and changes to the body’s autonomic functions.
Common symptoms include:
- Increased Sensitivity to Touch
- Muscle Weakness
- Tingling, Prickling, or Burning Sensation
Motor symptoms include muscle spasms, muscle atrophy, and muscle weakness or paralysis.
Common sensory symptoms include tingling sensations or numbness in the affected area, increased pain sensitivity, and burning, stinging or stabbing pain.
Autonomic symptoms include drastic changes in blood pressure, excessive sweating (or not sweating enough), sexual dysfunction, and difficulty with bowel and bladder movements. Less common autonomic symptoms, like a change in skin color, swelling, or blurred vision, may also occur.
Causes of Neuropathy
Aside from nerve damage, there are other causes of neuropathy, one of the most common being diabetes. However, neuropathy may also be inherited, caused by kidney conditions, or even brought on by hormone imbalances. In some cases, tumors can also cause neuropathy by pressing down on nerves and damaging them.
Other common causes of neuropathy include:
How to Diagnose
If you think you have neuropathy, it’s important to talk to one of the doctors at Carolinas Pain Center about potential causes to ensure that you aren’t putting yourself at further risk. Then, you can move forward with diagnoses that can help you to protect your health and decide on the best treatment options for you.
Like all types of chronic pain, there are always treatment solutions. Treatments are most effective when used in combination with one another. Always consult your doctor before starting neuropathy treatment. The board certified and fellowship trained physicians at Carolinas Pain Center are experts in this field and can help you make good decisions regarding your care.
Medications can be effective for treating peripheral neuropathy caused by hormone imbalances or other conditions that can cause neuropathy. To manage nerve pain from neuropathy, other medications like over-the-counter painkillers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications can also be effective in treating mild to moderate pain. However, there are serious limitations to treating pain and having a much deserved conversation with one of our experts at Carolinas Pain Center is important prior to and during treatment.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy, or TENS therapy, is a common pain treatment that uses light electrical signals to “confuse” the nerves and relieve pain. The process involves placing small electrodes on pained areas and using a machine to stimulate the nerves and muscles. TENS therapy can also help relieve some stress caused by muscle atrophy.
Like TENS therapy, physical therapy is excellent for building muscle strength. In addition to physical therapy, assistive devices like canes and braces are also helpful in reducing pain while moving.
Plasma Exchange or Intravenous Immune Globulin Therapy
Both of these therapies suppress immune system activity. Plasma exchanges extract blood and physically remove antibodies from it before returning it to the body, while IGT gives patients extra immunoglobulins, which act as antibodies.
For neuropathy there are great long-established options such as peripheral and spinal cord stimulation. These are implantable devices that can help manage pain. Some of these can be done temporarily while others are surgically implanted. View our spinal cord stimulation page for more.
Why Choose Carolina’s Pain Center?
At the Carolinas Pain Center, we know better than anyone that your pain isn’t something that should just be “worked through.” Our doctors and specialists are experts in their fields and are fully equipped to provide you with the resources and planning you need to manage your pain one step at a time. You deserve the best: make an appointment today!