Peripheral neuropathy is a painful condition that can be disabling – this condition causes pain, numbness and weakness in parts of the body like the hands and feet, and can significantly reduce your quality of life. Can peripheral neuropathy be prevented, and how can it be treated if you suffer from this condition?
Peripheral Neuropathy: The Facts
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition caused by damage to the nerves. It most often affects the nerves that lead to your feet and hands but it can also be a problem for other parts of the body. This nerve damage may be the result of nerve injury or trauma, infection, or metabolic problems. In the case that one nerve is affected, the condition is called mononeuropathy. When two or more nerves are affected it is called multiple mononeuropathy and when many different nerves are damaged the condition is called polyneuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy may be prevented if you understand the risk factors for this health condition. However, in some cases it is unavoidable. Risk factors to take into account are exposure to heavy metals, chemicals and other toxins, medications to treat cancer, and vitamin deficiencies. If you have diabetes it is more likely you will suffer from peripheral neuropathy unless your diabetes is properly controlled – this lowers the risk. Some factors which you may not be able to avoid include bacterial and viral infections, tumors, and injury or trauma to the nerves as the result of an accident.
Peripheral Neuropathy: Understand the Symptoms
Symptoms that normally affect people with peripheral neuropathy include a tingling or numb sensation in the hands and feet that begins gradually and can spread to other parts of the body. There may be pain – either a burning pain, or a sharp, stabbing pain. Other symptoms include sensitivity to touch, skin and hair changes, lack of coordination, muscle weakness or paralysis, intolerance to heat, digestive problems, and changes in blood pressure.
When treating peripheral neuropathy a physician will control the underlying health condition that causes nerve damage and will also treat the pain and discomfort associated with the problem. Pain treatment is important so that you can live a normal life – massage, exercise, physical therapy and alternative therapies are used to keep pain at bay. Other factors in pain management and controlling peripheral neuropathy include eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and trying relaxation techniques.