Neuropathy Treatment & Diagnosis
Neuropathy refers to the nerve pain that results from nerve dysfunction or damage. Approximately 20 million people in the US suffer from some form of neurological symptoms. And an estimated 7.5% of diabetic patients have neuropathy at the time of diagnosis.
Sometimes referred to as peripheral neuropathy, this is a condition where a malfunction in one or more nerves causes nerve pain. It is characterized by muscle weakness, tingling, numbness, and general pain in the affected area. In short, neurological symptoms often indicate a complication in the peripheral nervous system.
Addressing Neuropathy issues
Signs & Symptoms
Neurological symptoms are commonly described as pins and needles, tingling, burning, stabbing pain, or throbbing. Having said that, the symptoms of the condition depend on the underlying cause and the type of neuropathy. There are about 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy. Here are just a few examples:
Numbness (maybe temporary and sometimes permanent. Burning, or prickling sensation. Tingling. Hypersensitivity. Increased pain. Paralysis. Muscle weakness, cramps, or twitching. Muscle wasting or shrinking. Difficulty in balancing and coordination. Incontinence (urinary and bladder). Heat intolerance. Difficulty in controlling blood pressure. Heat intolerance. Unable to swallow. Problems with sweating.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of neuropathy is always nerve damage which, on the other hand, can happen due to hidden critical conditions. As such, the common causes of neurological symptoms can be:
Uncontrolled Diabetes – Poorly managed diabetes accounts for 60% of neuropathy in the US. It is the most common type of neuropathy and starts as pain or weakness in the hands and foot.
Chronic Kidney Disease – The imbalance of salts and chemicals caused due to kidney failure can cause peripheral neurological symptoms .
Cancer – An estimated 68% of people undergoing chemotherapy suffer from peripheral neurological symptoms . However, the rate decreases as much as 30% after six months.
HIV/AIDS – People with AIDS and HIV develop neuropathy due to the virus or the drugs used to treat the condition.
Injuries – Plaster casts and broken bones can place undue pressure on the nerve causing neurological symptoms .
Infections – Herpes or shingles and Lyme are also a factor. 12% of people who have Lyme disease develop neurological symptoms.
Certain nutrient deficiencies (malabsorption, unbalanced diet, or alcoholism) can also cause neurological symptoms .
Vitamin B12 Deficiency – Approximately 10% – 12% of people aged 60 and above are deficient in vitamin b12. The deficiency can damage the myelin sheath that protects the nerve.
Copper Deficiency – Though rare, copper deficiency can also cause neuropathy. However, it is due to malabsorption rather than an unbalanced diet.
Nutrient Overload – Similar to deficiency, an overload can also result in neuropathy. For example, an excess of B6 can be toxic to your system.
Toxins in Food – Toxins found in food can also inadvertently cause neuropathy. For example, mercury (fish), arsenic (brown rice).
Autoimmune Disorders – The following autoimmune disorders present a risk factor.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Next to diabetic, idiopathic neuropathy is the most occurring condition at almost 23%. It is referred to as the condition where peripheral neurological symptoms occur for no particular reason, especially in people over 60 years old. Even though it progresses slowly, it can be disruptive to their lives.
What is my Prognosis?
The prognosis depends on the type and how advanced it is right now. Some cases can be cured, while doctors can only manage others. In the latter case, the treatment only manages the pain and prevents additional nerve damage. Sometimes, the underlying condition can be treated, allowing the nerves to recover.
For example, in diabetic neuropathy, controlling your blood sugar can stop it from progressing and improve the symptoms. However, unless we treat the underlying disease, the symptoms can worsen and lead to amputation. An estimated 86,000 diabetic patients in the US lose a limb every year.
What Should I do If I Think I Have Neuropathy?
This can be a symptom of a serious disorder. Hence, contact us a soon as possible for a consultation.