If you’re losing sensation in your feet, or experiencing tingling, numbness, or burning foot pain, you may need peripheral neuropathy treatment. But what is this condition? How can you prevent or manage its progression? And how can you find relief from your discomfort? Stick with us and this post will explain everything you need to know.
Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy
Neuropathy is a condition involving the peripheral nerves—the ones outside of your brain and spinal cord. With neuropathy, these nerves are damaged, leading to symptoms that can disrupt your daily life and even threaten your limb health.
What Causes Peripheral Nerve Damage?
Sometimes it’s difficult to explain peripheral neuropathy, because many health conditions, both inherited and acquired, can result in this form of nerve damage. People with certain autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are more likely to experience neuropathy. Infections, such as shingles, Lyme disease, HIV and hepatitis also increase your neuropathy risk.
In other cases, your neuropathy symptoms may be side effects of inherited conditions, or the side effect of a cancerous or non-cancerous tumor. Plus, you may develop neuropathy if you have bone marrow problems, liver disease, kidney disease or a thyroid condition.
Additionally, the way you live can increase your neuropathy risk. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause peripheral nerve damage, as can deficiencies in vitamins E, B-1, B-6 and B-12. Even low copper levels may result in peripheral neuropathy.
Exposure to mercury or lead could increase your neuropathy risk. The same is true of exposure to chemotherapy drugs. But something as common as a car accident or a casted broken leg could result in peripheral nerve damage, so neuropathy is not always avoidable. In fact, at times, symptoms of neuropathy develop for no apparent reason (known as idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.)
Typically, though, peripheral neuropathy develops in patients who are living with diabetes. In fact, almost half of people diagnosed with this disease go on to develop neuropathy. For that reason, peripheral neuropathy treatment in our Southern Oregon podiatry practice begins with education on proper diabetes control and a strategic diabetic foot care plan. But, before we explore how to treat this condition, you need to know this condition may be developing.
Signs and Symptoms
While every individual is different, some of the most common neuropathy symptoms include stabbing, burning or tingling pain. Numbness and loss of sensation are also common. But why is there such variation in symptoms?
In short, different peripheral nerves have different jobs in your body. As such, your neuropathy symptoms will reflect the type of nerve that sustained damage within your body. And, for that reason, you may experience one, or several of the following symptoms:
• Numbness, along with tingling or prickling pain that first manifests in your feet or hands but gradually progresses up your legs or arms.
• Pain, that burns, stabs or throbs.
• An extreme sensitivity to touch that makes something as simple as the weight of a blanket on your feet incredibly uncomfortable.
• Muscle weakness, loss of coordination, more frequent falls, and even a loss of movement.
Now, symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can become progressively worse. For that reason, we must focus on early diagnosis. Or, better yet, we should emphasize controlling your diabetes in order to reduce your risk for neuropathy in the first place!
Can You Prevent Neuropathy?
As we reviewed earlier, there are many causes of peripheral neuropathy, and not all of them can be controlled. However, we can dramatically reduce your risk for diabetic neuropathy by making sure your disease is well-controlled.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the best way to prevent neuropathy or delay its progression is to keep your blood sugar as close as possible to your target range. Additionally, work to keep your blood pressure and weight in the target ranges established by your diabetic care team, while also engaging in regular physical activity regardless of weight, and limiting alcohol use. Avoid smoking or the use of other tobacco products, engage in healthy meal planning and take all medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Diabetic Foot Care with Neuropathy
Because neuropathy can reduce sensation in your feet, daily diabetic foot exams will become more important than ever if you have this condition. Every evening, before bed, examine the entire surface of your feet, including the bottom of your soles and the spaces between your toes. This will help you detect any cuts, blisters or red spots that may have developed without your sensing a problem. In turn, we can quickly treat corns, calluses, cuts or wounds in order to prevent serious complications. And remember, even if we are treating your neuropathy symptoms, you will need to stick with these daily foot exams in order to protect your feet.
Treating Peripheral Neuropathy in Medford OR
In our practice, we provider several peripheral neuropathy treatment options. The methods we recommend will depend on the severity of your symptoms and your unique state of health.
Topical Treatments for Neuropathy Pain
Currently, the FDA approves two topicals for peripheral neuropathy treatment—a medicated lidocaine plaster and a capsaicin patch—and, excitingly, this study suggests that they provide similar relief when compared to oral medications, often with fewer side effects. However, the study was not able to conclusively prove that topical treatments were non-inferior to oral medications. And some patients do seem to have a better response with oral peripheral neuropathy treatment options.
When patients require prescription medication for neuropathy relief, we may recommend Neurontin, Lyrica, or Cymbalta, depending on their symptoms, tolerance levels, and other prescribed medications.
MLS Laser Therapy as Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment
One exciting treatment option is the use of our MLS Laser. Unlike other treatments that merely help manage symptoms and relieve pain, MLS Laser Therapy may help reverse the damage of diabetic neuropathy by increasing blood flow and oxygen to your feet. When that happens, circulation surrounding your damaged nerves improves, and that can help heal some of the damage they’ve sustained, simultaneously reversing your symptoms, too.
Ready to say goodbye to pain, numbness and tingling in the feet? Call us at 541-776-3338 or click here to request peripheral neuropathy help in Southern Oregon and Northern California.