A Guide to Peripheral Neuropathy

Do you have numbness and tingling in your feet? Or, perhaps, you’re experiencing the loss of muscle tissue or sudden drops in blood pressure. All of these could be neuropathy, depending on which nerves were affected.

Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is nerve damage that develops when there’s a problem with the peripheral nervous system. This network of nerves sends information from your central nervous system, which is your brain and spinal cord, to the rest of your body.

You can take steps to prevent or manage this condition. Read this guide to learn the symptoms, causes, prevention, and treatment of peripheral neuropathy to find out how!

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

The three types of peripheral nerves are motor, sensory, and autonomic. Motor nerves control muscle movement, sensory nerves receive sensation from the skin, and autonomic nerves control automatic functions, like your blood pressure.

Motor symptoms include:

  • muscle atrophy, the wasting (thinning) or loss of muscle tissue,
  • muscle weakness and paralysis, which causes difficulty in moving the toes or raising the front part of the foot,
  • and uncontrolled muscle movements, like cramps.

Sensory symptoms include:

  • imbalance and clumsiness,
  • pain,
  • numbness,
  • and tingling.

Meanwhile, autonomic symptoms include:

  • bowel and bladder problems,
  • excessive sweating or not being able to sweat,
  • and sudden drops in blood pressure, which can lead to feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Many health conditions can cause peripheral neuropathy. The list consists of:

  • alcoholic neuropathy, a nerve disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time.
  • autoimmune diseases, like Guillain-Barré syndrome, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and vasculitis.
  • certain medications, including chemotherapy.
  • diabetes, which is the most common cause. About half of all people with diabetes have nerve damage.
  • genetic conditions, which run in the family. Examples include Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and Fabry disease.
  • infections due to bacteria or viruses. This includes the bacterial infection Lyme disease and viruses HIV and shingles.
  • injuries, such as those from falls, sports injuries, or motor vehicle accidents.
  • toxins from industrial chemicals and heavy metals.
  • tumors cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (benign) that grow on or press on nerves.
  • unknown reasons. This is called idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.
  • vitamin deficiencies, which are most likely vitamins B1, B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, and vitamin E.

Peripheral Neuropathy Prevention

There are lifestyle choices you can make to prevent peripheral neuropathy.

Eat a Balanced Diet

To keep nerves healthy, eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Some of the best foods for your nervous system are blueberries, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, olives, beets, and celery, to name a few.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise comes with several benefits. By exercising, those with neuropathy can better manage their blood sugar, improve blood flow to the extremities, lower high blood pressure, prevent muscle wasting, and reduce cramps and falls.

Avoid Factors That May Cause Nerve Damage

You can lessen your risk by avoiding alcohol and toxins. Remember to wear safety equipment as needed. Additionally, be sure to manage chronic conditions as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy

The goals are to manage the condition causing your neuropathy and improve symptoms.

Conservative Healing Methods

Medications can be used to treat conditions linked to peripheral neuropathy.

  • Pain relievers can improve mild symptoms.
  • Anti-seizure medicines, like gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin, and Horizant) and pregabalin (Lyrica), help relieve pain caused by damaged nerves.
  • Topical treatments, like lidocaine cream and patches, can be applied to the skin to improve pain.
  • Certain tricyclic antidepressants, like nortriptyline (Pamelor), interfere with chemical processes in the brain and spinal cord that cause you to feel pain.
  • Physical therapy can help improve your ability to move if you have muscle weakness or issues with balance.

When other conservative treatments haven’t worked, consider MLS laser therapy at The Foot & Ankle Center. It’s a non-invasive and painless procedure that effectively treats the pain and inflammation of neuropathy, making it a viable alternative to surgery.

Photons of laser energy painlessly penetrate deep into tissue and accelerate cellular healing. As a result of exposure to the MLS Laser, the cells of your tendons, ligaments, and muscles repair themselves faster.

Corrective Surgery

If conservative healing methods fail, advanced corrective foot and ankle surgery may be the answer. When you opt for surgery at The Foot & Ankle Center, you can rest assured that you are in good hands. Our certified podiatrists have more than 30 years of experience in correcting even the most advanced foot and ankle conditions through corrective surgery.

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Since 1989, The Foot & Ankle Center has been proud to deliver patients the highest quality of care in a comfortable and convenient setting. Our friendly and attentive doctors are knowledgeable and dedicated to giving you the best care possible. Here, you can expect to be treated with the individualized treatment you deserve.

You don’t have to wait to find relief. Call us at (314) 487-9300 or contact us online today to request an appointment!