Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder that affects the hands, feet, arms and legs. It can be caused by injury or illness affecting nerves in the body. You should know some of these signs to look for if you have peripheral neuropathy: tingling sensations, numbness, weakness and burning sensations. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about peripheral neuropathy and its treatment. You can avail yourself through the Bajaj health EMI card.
What Are the Types of Peripheral Neuropathy?
Motor Peripheral Neuropathy:
In this type of neuropathy, the nerves that carry messages from your brain and spinal cord to muscles are damaged in some parts of your body. If you have peripheral motor neuropathy, you might not be able to move a part of your body as well as before, even though you didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.
This type of neuropathy can affect your muscles, causing them to feel weak. If you have this kind of neuropathy, it may be hard for you to move around and do everyday tasks like fastening buttons or turning the pages of a book.
Sensory neuropathy refers to the damage of sensory nerves, leading to decreased sensation. It is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes and can affect any part of your body, such as your foot, leg or hand. It may cause numbness, tingling and loss of pain sensation resulting in an inability to feel heat and cold, which may lead to you getting injured.
What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?
The symptoms of Peripheral neuropathy are usually mild to severe. They can be debilitating, preventing you from doing daily activities that require manual dexterity or pain-free movement. Following are the critical Peripheral neuropathy symptoms to look out for:
- Muscle Cramps: These muscle pains commonly occur in your feet, calves and thighs before moving to other body parts like hands or arms. The pain may be sudden or gradual depending upon its cause.
- Muscle Weakness: In some cases, your muscles may become so weak that you have difficulty walking or speaking. This is the reason that you will need to consult a doctor immediately.
- Twitching: You might feel like you have an itching sensation all over your body; however, this will not go away with superficial scratching. This can also result in muscle spasms and cramps that are severe enough to cause pain or discomfort throughout the whole day.
- Muscle Wasting: This can result in the deterioration of your muscles, leading to the visible bone structure underneath the skin.
- Numbness: Numbness is typically the first sign of peripheral neuropathy, and it can affect any part of the body. The most common areas affected by numbness are toes or fingers, but you may also feel pain in your arms and legs.
- Loss of Bowel Control: This can result in control over defecation and urination, known as faecal or urinary incontinence.
- Paralysis: The risk of developing paralysis from peripheral neuropathy is rare, but it does happen.
- Rapid Heartbeat: The cause of this symptom is not entirely understood, but it can be a sign that the autonomic nervous system is affected.
- Heat Intolerance: A person with peripheral neuropathy may experience a decreased response to heat and cold. This can cause them to feel too hot or cold more often than usual.
Depending on the cause and symptoms of Peripheral neuropathy, the neurologist in Pune, Delhi or any other city may suggest the following treatment options. These are all covered by the Bajaj health Emi card:
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. These should be taken only after consulting the physician.
- Opioids like morphine can also be taken to treat pain.
- Doctors may also prescribe Anticonvulsants like Gabapentin and Pregabalin in some cases.
Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation (TENS):
- A particular device that emits electrical impulses through electrodes is used for TENS. It may help relieve mild and moderate pain.
- The patient has to place the electrode patches on their skin near painful areas such as wrist, back of knee etc.,
- A small battery-operated machine provides electric impulses, which can help reduce pain.
- Patients should use TENS for a couple of hours daily and gradually increase the time to relieve pain.
- The doctor may recommend wearing an elastic band on the affected part to help stimulate nerves with electrical signals while the patient is active at work or home. This treatment option is called functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS).
- The patient should contact the doctor if they experience an irregular heartbeat or trouble breathing.
Ergonomic Casts or Splints:
- The doctor may recommend a cast, brace or splint to avoid pain and stress on the nerve.
- These will help reduce abnormal movements of the hand or wrist that can increase pressure on nerves.
- Patients should wear this for a few weeks till they regain sensation in their hands and fingers.
- It is essential to follow all instructions provided by the doctor.
- Patients should not put weight on their hands, wrists or elbows while wearing these casts and splints as it can cause nerve damage.
- If pain lasts for a long time, even after trying different treatments, patients may need surgery to relieve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy that include burning sensation in feet & legs.
Following a healthy lifestyle can help prevent neuropathy. Some self-care measures include:
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Exercising daily
- Avoiding alcohol, smoking or drugs
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Sleeping Well
Common causes of peripheral neuropathy include diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, alcoholism, or certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs & pain relievers that cause nerve damage over time. Patients should raise the issue with their neurologist in Pune or any other city if they start experiencing pain while walking, exercising, or even sleeping at night.