All You Need to Know About Peripheral Neuropathy

How To Recognize the Different Stages of Peripheral Neuropathy - Fox  Integrated

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where your peripheral nerves are damaged and lose function. The peripheral nerve system includes all the nerves in your body except for the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can vary widely depending on which nerves are damaged, and can include pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and problems with balance and coordination. Peripheral neuropathy can impact your daily activities and quality of life. You need to visit a Bakersfield peripheral neuropathy specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment if you have peripheral neuropathy.

Causes

The causes of peripheral neuropathy vary. It may be caused by an underlying disease or condition, a side effect of certain medications (especially chemotherapy drugs), or as a result of another type of nerve damage such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The most common cause is diabetes. Other possible causes include alcoholism, vitamin deficiency, HIV infection, celiac disease, and exposure to toxins.

Symptoms

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary depending on which nerves are damaged. Symptoms may include pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in your hands and feet. You may notice that it takes longer than usual for cuts and bruises to heal. Commonly affected areas of the body include the toes, feet, legs, fingers, wrists, arms, and elbows. Nerves in the abdomen or internal organs may be affected, leading to nausea, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and other digestive problems. Some people experience vision changes such as blurred vision or partial blindness. In severe cases of peripheral neuropathy, your muscles can become weak and atrophied. You may have difficulty walking or even standing.

Diagnosis

A thorough medical history and neurological exam can help your doctor diagnose peripheral neuropathy. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a neurologist, a doctor specializing in the nervous system. Your doctor will also likely order imaging scans such as MRI or CT scans of your brain and spine and nerve conduction studies.

Treatment

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for peripheral neuropathy. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your condition. 

´╗┐Common treatments include medications to treat the underlying condition, pain relief medications, physical therapy, and surgery. Your doctor may recommend transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to reduce pain. It works by sending electrical impulses to your nerves to block pain signals.

Treatment may also involve physical therapy to help improve your balance and coordination, as well as strengthening your muscles. This can help you better manage activities of daily living.

Plasma exchange may come in handy for conditions such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system. Your blood is filtered to remove antibodies attacking your nerves in this treatment.

Your doctor may recommend intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) in some cases. This infusion of antibodies is often used for small fiber neuropathy, which causes tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.

You may need surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve, or remove a tumor or other mass that may be causing damage.

In summary, peripheral neuropathy is a condition where your peripheral nerves are damaged and lose function. It comes about due to various factors such as nerve damage, underlying condition, and side effects of medications. Symptoms may include pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in your hands and feet. A doctor can diagnose the condition based on your medical history and neurological exams. 

Treatment involves physical therapy, TENS, plasma exchange, IVIG, or surgery for extreme cases.