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Peripheral Neuropathy: Treatment and Diagnosis

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Neuropathy, now commonly known as peripheral neuropathy, is a disorder of the peripheral nerves. 

The peripheral nervous system is the network of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Peripheral nerves manage three functions: sensory, autonomic, and motor functions.

Peripheral nerves are responsible for recognizing touch, temperature, and pain. They are also responsible for muscular strength and voluntary and involuntary movement.

Peripheral neuropathy symptoms generally start with pain or loss of feeling in the fingers and toes. As the condition progresses, the legs and arms might become less sensitive to sensation, making walking or maintaining balance difficult. 

Peripheral Neuropathy Causes

The cause of peripheral neuropathy is not always known, though the condition is frequently a symptom of other health issues. There is also a genetic component -- if a parent has a history of neuropathy, the children are at greater risk.

Peripheral neuropathy is most commonly caused by diabetes; over time, high blood sugar weakens nerves. Several other conditions can also cause peripheral neuropathy, including:

  • Kidney Disease. Unaddressed kidney disease can cause a buildup of toxins in the blood, leading to nerve damage. 
  • Nutrient Deficiency. Lack of essential dietary nutrients like vitamin B-12 can cause nerve damage. 
  • Alcohol Use Disorder. Long-term heavy alcohol consumption can cause nerve damage and exacerbate nutrient deficiency, accelerating neuropathy.
  • Traumatic Injury. Physical injury to the nerves can lead to nerve damage.

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

Peripheral neuropathy can manifest gradually. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Diminished sensation in the fingers and toes
  • Shooting pain in the limbs
  • Tingling in the feet
  • Loss of balance or coordination

Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosis

Your risk of peripheral neuropathy is first assessed by obtaining the following information: 

  • Medical history
  • Family medical history
  • Symptoms

Additionally, your physician will conduct a physical examination to check your ability to sense touch, pain, and temperature. If additional screenings are necessary, your physician will order a series of tests that check the function of your nerves. These tests might include the following screenings:

  • Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Studies: This two-part test assesses peripheral nerve health. The test involves administering electric shocks to the skin directly over the suspected damaged nerve. The technician then measures the response to determine if the nerves are damaged and the nature of the damage.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). MRI tests allow the physician to visualize the internal structure and identify abnormalities. 
  • Computerized Tomography (CT). CT scans can detect compressed nerves, abnormal growths, herniated disks, and other anomalies that can interfere with nerve function.

 You will also undergo blood screening to check for diabetes, vitamin deficiency, or infections that can cause peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment: Peripheral Nerve Stimulation 

CardioVascular Health Center offers peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS), an outpatient neuromodulation therapy that provides targeted pain relief for chronic or neuropathy patients. PNS is an alternative to the traditional medication or treatment options used to treat neuropathy or chronic pain, especially for patients for whom conventional therapies have not been successful or optimized for adequate pain relief. Traditional medication therapies have many drawbacks and side effects, including limited replacement and the risk of dependency. Medication can also tire patients, interfering with their lifestyle and overall quality of life.

To learn more about peripheral neuropathy treatment options or to schedule a consultation with a neuropathy doctor, please get in touch with our helpful representatives today.

Patient Resources

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