Peripheral neuropathy is a term that encompasses varying degrees of damage to the peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves that are responsible for sending messages to areas of the body become damaged, resulting in both chronic and acute pain.
Unfortunately, diabetes is the most common cause of chronic peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms typically depend on the damaged areas, and can include the sensory, motor or autonomic nerves. Neuropathy can alter any one type, or a combination of them. For those who face the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy daily, finding treatment options that will assist with addressing the underlying causes and control symptoms can help sufferers achieve a full, functional life.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Damaged peripheral nerves break the chain of communication between the central and peripheral nervous system, leaving behind numbness and tingling sensations or prickling in the toes and fingers. Over time, these initial symptoms can spread to the limbs, causing a burning, throbbing, or freezing sensation that can become worse while resting. Both acute and chronic pain can surface constantly or periodically. Pain is typically felt on both sides of the body, hands and feet.
The general symptoms of peripheral neuropathy
- Strange sensations that are often described as wearing an invisible sock or glove
- Unexplained freezing or burning sensations
- Sharp pain that feels like stabbing or electrical shock
- Severe sensitivity to touch
- Feet and leg pain that makes sleeping nearly impossible
- Balance and coordination problems
- Weak muscles, muscle cramping or twitching
- Inability to easily move arms and issues with walking
- Excessive or abnormal sweating
- Deviations in blood pressure and pulse
These symptoms can also coincide with weakness in the limbs that can lead to dropping items, or not being able to feel the feet. Symptoms can also depend on the type of peripheral nerves damaged.
Sources of Peripheral Neuropathy
There are varying causes of peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes, specific autoimmune disorders, toxins, kidney failure, and even cancer treatment drugs can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Each situation differs based on the level of damage and individual symptoms. However, diabetic neuropathy is one of the more common known causes of peripheral neuropathy.
For more than 60% of diabetic patients, damage to one or more of the sensory, motor or autonomic nerves reveals symptoms that are difficult to experience. One of the first signs of diabetic neuropathy is numbness or tingling sensations in the feet, legs, or hands. Left untreated, neuropathy symptoms can lead to weakened muscles, and loss of reflexes, most notably around the ankles. As nerve damage spreads, numbness in the feet can inhibit sufferers from distinguishing temperature and identifying pain.
Diabetic neuropathy symptoms include; lack of feeling or numbness, tingling sensations to the feet, toes, legs, hands, arms and fingers, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, fainting when standing, urinary tract issues, vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction.
Treatment Options for Peripheral Neuropathy
The object of treatment is to help identify and manage the causes of peripheral neuropathy. There is a wide variety of treatment options to help alleviate the symptoms. For those who have diabetes, managing blood sugar levels with diet and medication is the first step to preventing future damage. Pain relievers and other medications may be prescribed, including some types of topical treatments that can be used to manage symptoms. Holistic and alternative options also exist.
Another option for those who suffer from peripheral neuropathy is the application of a consecutive series of treatments to stimulate the nerves, called Frequency Rhythmic Electrical Modulation Systems or FREMS. FREMS stimulates the nervous system, encouraging the regeneration of damaged tissue, thus improving the blood flow and nerve function. Research continues to suggest that FREMS is an effective option to treat symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. For more information on studies completed, read the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health study on frequency-modulated electromagnetic neural stimulation as a viable treatment option for peripheral neuropathy.
Identifying the right treatment can help those who suffer from peripheral neuropathy find a path to a healthy, pain-free life. Living a healthy lifestyle can help make living with peripheral neuropathy more manageable. Treatment combined with good nutrition habits, a positive attitude, good self-care, and physical activity or exercise can help those who suffer from peripheral neuropathy become balanced, healthy individuals. For more information about FREMS or the treatment and prevention of disease or disorders of the foot through Therapeutic, Orthotic, Palliative, Educational and Surgical options contact us at Step By Step Footcare.