Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy

The peripheral nervous system connects the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy occurs when there is damage to your peripheral nerves, resulting in weakness, numbness and pain in the hands and feet. The pain can be intense, stabbing, burning or tingling. Pain can occur in any area of the body, but is usually focused in the hands and feet.

One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes mellitus. Other common causes include traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes and exposure to toxins.

Medications can alleviate the pain of peripheral neuropathy, and in many cases where the underlying cause is a treatable condition, symptoms improve as the condition is treated.

Symptoms

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy depend on the types of nerves that are damaged. There are three types of peripheral nerves: sensory, motor and autonomic. Sensory nerves receive information from the body regarding temperature, pain and touch. Motor nerves control muscle movement.  Autonomic nerves control functions like blood pressure, heart rate and digestion.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, freezing or burning pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, which can spread upward into the legs and arms
  • Lack of coordination, weakness, paralysis or falling
  • Intolerance of intolerance
  • Unusual sweating or lack of sweating
  • Bowel, bladder or digestive problems
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness from changes in blood pressure

See a doctor immediately if you experience any unusual tingling, weakness or pain in your hands or feet. Early treatment provides the best chance of successfully controlling your symptoms and preventing further damage to your peripheral nerves.

Causes

Peripheral neuropathy is not a single disease. It can be caused by numerous conditions including alcoholism, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, exposure to certain toxins, certain infections, vitamin deficiencies, tumors, and trauma.

Diagnosis

Since there are many possible causes of peripheral neuropathy, proper diagnosis usually requires a physical exam, full medical history, neurological exam, blood tests, imaging tests, nerve function tests, and possibly a nerve biopsy.

Treatment

There are two aspects of peripheral neuropathy treatment: managing of symptoms and treatment of the underlying conditions that caused the neuropathy. Proper treatment of the underlying conditions is critical to minimize further nerve damage.

Treatments to manage the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include pain medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, anti-seizure medications, lidocaine patches, anti-depressants, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin, and physical therapy.

Get a Professional Assessment 

Dr. Root and Dr. Villanueva are physicians based in Burbank, CA, and are focused on the multi-disciplinary approach of treating pain. They approach each case from a variety of disease processes including neck and back spinal conditions, complex regional pain syndrome, joint disease, and chronic pain from spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders, cancer, and other medical conditions. Call us at 818-875-5501 so we can create a comprehensive treatment plan to restore you back to full health.

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