Peripheral Neuropathy: Diagnosis and Treatment in Dallas, Plano & Texas are a network of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord that transmit pain signals and information throughout your body to the brain. The peripheral nerves also send information from your brain and spinal cord to the other parts of your body.
When an injury occurs in any part of your body, it is the peripheral nerves that transmit the pain signal to the brain to inform the brain the something wrong is happening. When the pain signals get to the brain, you will then begin to feel pain.
When the peripheral nerves get damaged or irritated, they begin to malfunction. They may no longer send pain signals and sensations to the brain even when you get injured. When this happens, you may not feel pain even when you are injured or when there is something harming your body.
They may also send incorrect pain signals and sensations to the brain even when you are not injured. When this happens, you may begin to feel pain even when you are not injured or when there is nothing harming your body. The peripheral nerves begin to malfunction and send wrong signals and sensations. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy
The symptoms that you will experience depend on the nerve that is damaged or affected. This is because each nerve in the peripheral nervous system performs specific functions.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Weak and heavy feelings
- Lack of coordination and balance
- Shocking sensation
- Thinning of the skin
- Drop in blood pressure
- Tingling in the hands or feet
- Feeling like you are putting on a tight sock
- Sharp, stabbing, or burning pain
- Numbness in the hands or feet
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Feeling of pain when there is nothing causing the pain
- Sexual dysfunction, especially in men
- Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
- Bowel, bladder or digestive problems
- Changes in blood pressure
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Digestive difficulty
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle weakness
- Heat intolerance
Diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy
During diagnosis, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and take your medical history. Your doctor may also conduct a neurological examination to check your tendon reflexes, muscle strength, and the ability to feel certain sensations.
Other additional tests that your doctor may recommend include:
- Blood tests to check for vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, and abnormal immune function. Blood tests may also be used to check for other indications of conditions that can cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT, or MRI scans to search for the availability of herniated disks, tumors, or other abnormalities.
- Nerve function tests such as Electromyography (EMG) are used to detect nerve damage.
- Sweat tests used to measure your body’s ability to sweat.
- Sensory tests to measure how you feel touch, vibration, pain, and other sensory issues.
- Nerve biopsy to check for any abnormalities.
- Skin biopsy to search for a reduction in nerve endings.
Treatment of peripheral neuropathy in legs and feet
Peripheral neuropathy commonly affects the legs and feet. There are several different treatment options used to treat peripheral neuropathy. A combination of treatments may also be used to treat peripheral neuropathy.
Treatment options include:
Massaging the affected leg or feet can help improve circulation and reduce pain.
Engaging in certain strengthening and flexibility exercises such as yoga can help improve your condition and relieve nerve pain.
Over-the-counter pain relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help to relieve mild symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Opioids and medications containing opioids such as tramadol or oxycodone can be prescribed to relieve severe pain. Opioids should be used for a short period of time because they could become addictive.
Anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin, and pregabalin may be used to relieve nerve pain. Anti-seizure medications can cause drowsiness and dizziness; hence you need to follow the instructions and prescriptions of your doctor.
Certain tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, doxepin, and nortriptyline, have been found to help relieve nerve pain.
Capsaicin cream can provide some improvements in peripheral neuropathy. Applying lidocaine patches to your skin can help relieve neuropathic pain.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
TENS helps to stimulate the nerve and also helps to suppress the activities of the immune system. TENS can help relieve peripheral neuropathy symptoms and pain.
Plasma exchange involves harvesting some amount of blood from your body and then extracting antibodies and protein-rich plasma from the body. The antibodies and protein-rich plasma are then injected back into the affected area of your body. This treatment helps to suppress the immune system activity.
Engaging in physical therapies can help strengthen your muscles and increase body movements.
Surgery is required for peripheral neuropathies caused by pressure exerted on nerves. When a herniated disk, bone spur, or tumor is exerting pressure on a nerve, surgery may be required to take the pressure away from the affected nerve.
Certain alternative treatments have shown promising improvements for peripheral neuropathy.
Alternative treatments that may be used include:
Thin needles are inserted into various parts of the body to help relieve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Certain herbs may help to relieve or reduce neuropathy pain in diabetic patients.
Amino acids such as acetyl-L-carnitine may help improve the condition in diabetic patients. Amino acids may also be helpful in individuals who have undergone chemotherapy.
Alpha-lipoic-acid has shown promising improvements for individuals with peripheral neuropathy. It can cause some side effects; hence consult with your doctor before using it.