Peripheral neuropathy is the name for a specific condition where nerves outside of the brain or spinal cord become damaged – specifically, nerves within the peripheral nervous system. This could include the nerves that control sensory experience, those that control muscles, or those that manage bladder function and blood pressure. While many people across the US suffer from this particular condition – especially over the ages of 55 – not everyone knows the cause of this particular illness.
Read on for a full overview of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, the causes of this condition, and how it can be treated:
What does peripheral neuropathy look like?
Typically, peripheral neuropathy symptoms can vary depending on the kind of nerves in your body that are damaged. For example, if the damage is to nerves that control sensation, you may experience numbness, pins and needles, and tingling in the hands or feet. At the opposite end of the scale, you could have a sensitivity to touch, as well as shooting, burning, or throbbing pains in the affected areas. If motor nerves are affected, symptoms could include weakness in the muscles and even paralysis in severe cases.
For autonomic nerves, tell-tale signs of peripheral neuropathy can be problems with the bladder and bowel, blood pressure issues, and difficulties with regulating temperature. A medical professional will advise you on your condition based on your specific symptoms, and from there, can decide on the kind of treatment that may be best suited to you.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
So, what leads to peripheral neuropathy occurring in the first place? Here are some of the most common causes of this condition:
Both type one and type two diabetes can lead to peripheral neuropathy and are by far the most common causes in patients with this particular condition when their diabetic health is not well-managed. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves over time, resulting in specific nerve damage called diabetic polyneuropathy. From there, peripheral neuropathy can develop, and most diabetic clinics will regularly check for this condition.
Directly injuring the nerves in your body, especially in your hands and feet where such injuries can more easily occur, can be a cause of peripheral neuropathy. As the nerves are damaged as a result of an accident or injury, peripheral neuropathy symptoms can occur immediately after the damage or quite a while following an incident.
You may not think of viral infections as a cause of nerve damage, but a range of different viruses can directly lead to damage in the extremities, leading to peripheral neuropathy. Shingles are the most common of these viral infections, though other viruses that affect nerves can cause this condition.
Both certain medications and the excessive drinking of alcohol can cause chemical damage to nerves over time, leading to peripheral neuropathy developing. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy is an acceptable side-effect of medication that otherwise saves or improves someone’s quality of life. In other cases, it can be an infrequent side effect that should be addressed immediately when noticed.
How do you treat peripheral neuropathy?
The way that peripheral neuropathy is treated depends on the cause of the condition. For people with diabetes, getting a better handle on your blood sugar level can reduce damage and nerve pain in some cases. For those with physical damage or irreversible nerve damage, the course of treatment is pain management. Motor nerves can be strengthened and improving with physiotherapy in some cases, while other nerve pain can be managed with neuropathic pain agents that directly target this kind of pain.
If you’re struggling with peripheral neuropathy, a chiropractor may be able to support you in handling that pain, using techniques for hand and foot pain relief to make each day easier. If you’re looking for a Baltimore chiropractor, get in touch with our friendly and experienced team at the Lewis Family Chiropractic & Wellness Center. We’d be happy to help.