Neuropathy, which is nerve damage, affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States, but experts believe the number may be far higher, as many individuals go undiagnosed.
At Magnolia Medical Center, our multidisciplinary team believes that the first line of defense when it comes to your health is education. To that end, we’ve pulled together the following information on neuropathy and how to recognize the signs of a brewing problem.
Neuropathy at a glance
To better understand the signs of neuropathy, it’s helpful to quickly review the problem and why it develops. The simplest definition of neuropathy is any damage to your peripheral nervous system, which is the vast network of nerves outside of your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Peripheral neuropathy most usually affects feet and hands. As the condition worsens, symptoms can be felt in the lower leg and arms as well.
The causes of peripheral neuropathy
Neuropathy can occur for many reasons, including:
- Trauma to your nerves
- Systemic diseases like diabetes
- Cardiovascular issues
- Lumbar Spinal Degeneration which causes nerve impingement
- Alcohol use disorders
- As a side effect of some medications, like Statin drugs
- Chemotherapy Treatment
- Vitamin deficiencies
Of this list, diabetes is one of the more common causes, as neuropathy develops in 60-70% of those who have the chronic disease.
As we’ve explained, nerve damage can occur in any of your nerve groups, which can lead to widely different symptoms. However, Peripheral Neuropathy most usually impacts sensory nerves.
When nerve breakdown occurs in the sensory nerves, it alters your body’s sensations, which can lead to the following symptoms:
- Increased sensitivity to temperature
- Shooting pains
If the neuropathy affects your motor nerves, you may experience muscle weakness or issues with balance or coordination.
Treating your neuropathy
Typical medical treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy is usually limited to medication. Unfortunately, most medication for nerve pain only seeks to reduce the pain symptom and does NOT resolve the underlying nerve damage. So, while the pain may be covered up in the short term, the nerves continue to worsen. Most patients report limited or no results from medication.
When it comes to resolving neuropathic conditions in our office, our first step is to identify the cause of the problem. For example, if you’re diabetic and you develop peripheral neuropathy, we can work with you to help manage diet to prevent any more damage from sugar dysregulation.
Through our integrated approach, our goal is to halt the progression of your neuropathy and restore function to the damaged nerves, which we can best accomplish by treating the underlying cause.
If you suspect you’re developing neuropathy, early intervention is key. To get started, contact our office in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to set up an appointment.