At least 20 million Americans suffer from a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This condition causes pain and loss of feeling in the hands and feet. At Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center in Plano, Texas, Henry Horrilleno, MD and Alma Horrilleno, MD, are ready to help you understand what peripheral neuropathy is and what you can do about it.
About 70% of diabetics develop this condition. If you are diabetic, our team will evaluate your symptoms and determine if you have or are at risk of getting peripheral neuropathy.
Read on to learn what you need to know to understand peripheral neuropathy!
What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition that affects your peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system plays a very important role in the body, transferring information from the brain to different parts of your body. Your peripheral nervous system also relays information gathered from your five senses to your brain and central nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy happens when the peripheral nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord become damaged. If you have this condition, your nerves are not able to function normally.
Different nerves can be affected so peripheral neuropathy isn’t just a single disease, but it is rather a collective of many disorders that could come from this kind of nerve damage.
What symptoms may indicate peripheral neuropathy?
Depending on the type and severity of nerves damaged, symptoms of peripheral neuropathy range from mild to disabling. It is common for most of the peripheral nerves to be affected but sometimes only one or few nerves will be damaged.
Because different nerves have different functions, there are a lot of symptoms that can be experienced.
The most common symptoms include:
- Sharp, throbbing, or burning pain
- Mild to extreme sensitivity to touch or temperature
- Tingling, numbness, or pinprick sensations in your feet or hands, which can move up your arms or legs
- Pain during normal activities, such as when a blanket touches your foot
- Worsening coordination and muscle weakness
- Paralysis or trouble moving
You may experience less common symptoms when there is damage to autonomic nerves. These symptoms would include a change in blood pressure or heart rate and urinary and/or digestive problems.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
While peripheral neuropathy can be caused by many different conditions, the most common cause is diabetes. It is common in diabetics since elevated blood glucose levels can result in nerve damage.
Diabetes isn’t the only reason you may develop peripheral neuropathy; other causes include:
- Traumatic injury/pressure on the nerve(s) (e.g., car accident, sports injury)
- Repetitive stress to the nerve(s)
- Certain medications (e.g., chemotherapy)
- Certain autoimmune diseases (e.g., Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus)
- Vitamin deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B, vitamin E)
- Infections (e.g., Epstein-Barr, HIV, Lyme disease, shingles)
- Tumors, cysts, or growths that press on your nerves
- Kidney or liver disease
When the exact cause of peripheral neuropathy can’t be determined, your doctor may diagnose you with idiopathic neuropathy, which means the cause is unknown.
How is peripheral neuropathy treated?
Here at Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center, we take a comprehensive approach to treating peripheral neuropathy. Depending on your specific case, your provider may prescribe pain medication, topical medications, or even nerve stimulation therapy to block the painful signals sent to the brain.
More treatment options include an ultrasound-guided injection. This allows the medication to be injected as closely as possible to the affected nerves in order to disrupt the pain signals. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, involves administering gentle electrical currents to the nerves to reduce pain.
Transforaminal injections can reduce inflammation, swelling, and numbness over a longer period of time. These injections involve injecting long-acting steroids into the spine where the nerve exits.
Because there are so many causes of peripheral neuropathy, lifestyle changes are extremely beneficial. Maintaining a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and regular exercise are all beneficial.
Need help diagnosing or managing peripheral neuropathy?
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy or are worried you might be developing it, the team at Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center provides expert medical care customized for you. If you’re experiencing symptoms of neuropathy, seek medical care.
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in preventing further damage to your nerves. Whether you have been diagnosed or think you might develop peripheral neuropathy, our team at Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center is dedicated to providing expert medical care to help ease your pain.
If you have any of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, don’t wait to seek medical attention! Contact our Plano office to schedule an appointment or book online now.