One in five Americans suffer from neuropathy, yet many don’t even realize they have it. In fact, this chronic neurological condition is commonly mistreated, misdiagnosed, or underdiagnosed. At NewSouth NeuroSpine we want to highlight National Neuropathy Awareness Week so you can be informed about this leading cause of disability in the United States. Because symptoms can be confusing, let us help you learn what to look for and how an appointment at NewSouth NeuroSpine can slow the progression of this painful disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is the shorthand name for a condition called peripheral neuropathy. It occurs when your peripheral nerves are damaged. The peripheral nervous system sends information from your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) to other parts of your body. Because each nerve in your peripheral nervous system does something different, your symptoms will vary depending on the nerves that are damaged. If sensory nerves are damaged, you may feel a sharp, stabbing, throbbing, or burning pain in your feet or hands.
In some cases, there is a gradual onset of numbness that can spread from your feet up to your legs or spread from your hands to your arms. A tingling or prickly sensation is also common in the hands and feet. Others describe an extreme sensitivity to touch. When motor nerves are damaged, you may lose coordination or the ability to balance. Falling is common in this scenario as well as experiencing muscle weakness or paralysis. Autonomic nerves control your blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and bladder. When these nerves are damaged, you may notice a heat intolerance and increased sweating. Changes in bowel movements and problems with your bladder or digestion also indicate neuropathy. Other symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, or changes in your blood pressure.
Who is at Risk for Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is an umbrella term for peripheral nerve damage. You could have nerve damage to one or multiple nerves that causes an array of symptoms. Because neuropathy is not a single disease, there are many factors that cause neuropathy. You are at risk for developing neuropathy if any of the causes listed below are a part of your daily life.
- Autoimmune Diseases: these include diseases in which your immune system attacks your own tissue such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Diabetes: your risk increases even more if you are unable to control your blood sugar
- Infections: viral or bacterial infections like Lyme disease, shingles, hepatitis C, and HIV
- Exposure to Toxins: especially if you work around heavy metals or various chemicals
- Vitamin Deficiencies: vitamin B and E are important for nerve health
- Nerve Trauma: such as a fall, sports injury, or vehicle accidents
Can You Prevent Neuropathy?
If you can successfully manage diabetes, alcohol intake, or autoimmune diseases that put you at risk, you’ll be making great strides toward preventing neuropathy. But there are several lifestyle choices you can make to take your prevention a step further. Eating a healthy diet that is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is extremely important. We also encourage you to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, three days a week. Lastly, you can avoid certain factors that increase the potential for nerve damage like repetitive motions, cramped positions, toxic chemicals, and overindulging in alcohol.
How Can NewSouth NeuroSpine Help?
When you address neuropathy quickly, you’ll be able to manage your symptoms and prevent neuropathy from progressing. If you notice you have any of the symptoms or risk factors associated with peripheral neuropathy, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. Our doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating neuropathy. We have a team whose expertise is in physical medicine and rehabilitation. By using a comprehensive approach, your doctor will diagnose the source of the pain, help you manage your pain effectively, and improve function in the problem area.
Don’t suffer from pain associated with neuropathy. Schedule an appointment with NewSouth NeuroSpine so you can be diagnosed correctly and begin a course of treatment today.