Think of peripheral neuropathy like static on a telephone line, both interrupt the sending of information. Peripheral neuropathy is a result of nerve damage in the peripheral nervous system; causing a disruption of information from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body. Peripheral neuropathy can occur following traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, and exposure to toxins. Diabetes is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include muscle weakness, numbness, tingling sensations (paresthesia), loss of sensation, and pain in the feet and hands, and other parts of the body.
Peripheral neuropathy can affect motor nerves (muscle control), sensory nerves (sensations), or automatic nerves (those that control heart rate, breathing, or body temperature). In chronic forms of peripheral neuropathy symptoms develop subtly and progress slowly, many people even feel periods of relief from numbness and tingling in feet and hands, followed by relapses. In the most common forms of peripheral neuropathy, nerve fibers distanced further from the brain and spinal cord, like in the feet, malfunction first.
Common Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy
There are no medical treatments that cure peripheral neuropathy, but there are many treatments that can control and limit the pain of peripheral neuropathy. Controlling the underlying cause of your peripheral neuropathy is one goal of treatment. Often if the underlying cause is corrected the peripheral neuropathy improves on its own. The other goal of treatment is relieving the painful symptoms.
- Some medications used to relieve peripheral neuropathy pain include: pain relievers (anti-inflammatory, and opioids), anti-seizure medications, immunosuppressive medications, capsaicin, lidocaine patch, and antidepressants.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may help relieve symptoms. Adhesive electrodes are placed on the skin and gentle electric current is delivered through the electrodes at varying frequencies.
- Cold Laser Therapy my help peripheral neuropathy by using the energy of the light to heal the nerve tissue.