Neuropathy is a very common health condition. It is the weakness, numbness, and pain resulting from nerve damage mostly, in the hands and feet. Surveys reported that about 25% to 30% of Americans can be affected by neuropathy irrespective of their age and health condition. Anyway, there is an increased possibility in older people.
What Is Neuropathy? How To Treat It?
Neuropathy is commonly called peripheral neuropathy as it affects the peripheral nervous system of the human body. The human nervous system is divided into two parts. The Central Nervous System includes the brain and spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system includes all other nerves connecting other body parts with the central nervous system.
Neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nervous system and it can be affected mainly in three ways based on the types of nerves affected. Symptoms are also different according to the area of damage.
- Damage to the sensory nerves: Your sensory capacity will be affected and you will not be ankle to feel touch.
- Damage to motor nerves: Your motor abilities like moving walking, and lifting things will be under threat here in this condition.
- Problems with the autonomic nerves: Nerves that perform autonomic functions are affected here and it may cause indigestion, sweating, and breathing.
Causes of Neuropathy
Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy can be a result of many other health problems. According to experts, the most common cause is diabetes. As per the new surveys, around 50% of people with diabetes are facing issues of neuropathy in America. It can severe or with mild symptoms. But diabetes is not the only cause of neuropathy.
- A cut, injury, or bone fracture can directly affect a nerve. There are cases reported after medical procedures like surgery.
- A genetic disorder is also counted as a reason although it is very rare.
- Some medicines are also causing nerve damage. Especially, a medicine used for the treatment of cancer (chemotherapy), to regulate blood pressure, and some antibiotics are considered as the reason.
- Vitamin deficiency can also cause nerve damage. Vascular disease, autoimmune conditions, some infections, kidney disease, and cancer cause neuropathy too.
- Alcoholic addictions and overdose cause neuropathy as it affects the entire nervous system.
Symptoms of neuropathy
Symptoms vary as per the affected area. Here are the major symptoms of all three prominent types. These symptoms can be identified slowly or quickly. It is a fact that in most cases more than two types of peripheral neuropathy are visible in a single patient.
- Sensory neuropathy: A sharp pain in the legs and hands, numbness and frozen feeling burning sensation in the foot, painful touch, disability to balance the body using hands and legs.
- Motor neuropathy: Muscle cramps, wasting or losing of muscles, paralysis, overall body weakness, and a noticeable difference in the working pattern as a result of the difficulty in lifting up the front part of the foot.
- Autonomic neuropathy: constipation or diarrhea, low blood pressure, dizziness, faint feeling, speedy heartbeat, a disorder in sweating, difficulty with urination, and loss of bowel control.
How to diagnose?
You need to take immediate medical care when the symptoms started to develop in your body. Your doctors may suggest a number of diagnosis methods to find out your condition. They will test your sensation, strength, and reflexes. You can talk to your doctor regarding the symptoms, history and then they will suggest physical tests. These tests are also specific for different conditions.
Usually, Nerve Conduction tests are used to diagnose the damage that occurred to the nerve. Electromyography helps to identify the damage of nerves as well as related muscles. Doctors also suggest skin biopsy to determine the real condition. There are health practitioners who suggest an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan find out the cause of neuropathy.
Treatment of neuropathy
Neuropathic treatment is different for different individuals as the underlying cause varies. The treatment is usually for the cause and then the damage. There are several treatments modes to control neuropathic pain as it is very difficult to get along with them.
The first choice is always anticonvulsant medicines as they can give you an immediate result.
Antidepressants are also useful for neuropathic pain. Specialists always recommend types of antidepressants as they are good in giving quick relief such as Tricyclic antidepressants and SNRIs or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.
There are some steroids or powerful anti-inflammatory medicines used for pain relief. Doctors also prescribe immunoglobulin injection and immunosuppressant medicines for temporary relief.
Although we are all well aware of the side effects of anticonvulsant and antidepressant medicines we opt for them as per the instruction of medical practitioners to reduce the intensity of chronic pain. But it is always good to discuss the side effects with your doctor as he can make changes in the dosage.
The solution should always come from the root. The permanent treatment method for neuropathic pain is to treat based on the underlying cause.
Diabetes is considered to be the major cause of neuropathy. Controlling diabetes is all about your mindset. Lifestyle changes, avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy BMI can help in controlling your blood sugar level.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is considered a major cause. Here booster medicines Vitamin b12 can help you. There are both injections and tablets available for this purpose.
If your neuropathy is a side effect of a particular medicine you had, stopping the consumption of that particular medicine will help you to get rid of the threat of neuropathy.
People always run behind medicines for pain relief when they have neuropathic pain as the pain is disgusting and affects day-to-day affairs. Capsaicin cream is a very good pain reliever. Applying a pea-sized quantity in the affected area 3 to 4 times a day gives you a good result.
Tramadol is another pain reliever that will not affect the medicines that you are consuming as per the prescription of your doctor. This is a morphine-based pain reliever and long-term usage can cause addiction.
Prevention is always better than cure. Be aware of the symptoms and causes and treat any underlying cause like diabetes. Do not allow your smoking habit and alcohol consumption to rule over you.