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Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy affects many people. Here's some suggestions to cope

Peripheral nerves send sensory information to and from the central nervous system — and damage to these nerves can cause inappropriate and distorted signals, or even a loss of these signals. This results in peripheral neuropathy (PN), which is a general term for conditions caused by the disorder of peripheral nerves that cause chronic pain or disability. PN is actually one of the most common neurological disorders, affecting all age groups, but most especially older adults. In fact, patients with idiopathic neuropathy, which is a kind of PN that has no identifiable cause, already outnumber patients with Alzheimer’s disease up to three times.

As a chronic condition, most cases of PN can’t be completely reversed or cured. However, you can cope with it by managing symptoms and preventing further nerve damage. Below are a few things you can do:

Manage underlying conditions

PN isn’t always an isolated condition since it can also be caused by other health problems, including diabetes. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of neuropathy, affecting 50% of adult Americans with diabetes. It typically affects the feet and legs, but in rare cases, it can also affect the arms, abdomen, and back. Symptoms can include serious foot problems like ulcers and joint pain.

To prevent or delay further nerve damage that will worsen your PN, it’s important that you also focus on managing your diabetes. This means keeping your blood sugar close to your target range, taking medicine prescribed by the doctor and keeping to a low-sugar diet. Other conditions that may cause PN include chronic liver disease and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.

Explore treatment options

There are various treatment options for PN, the most common ones are arguably pharmaceutical medications, such as Tylenol and lidocaine. But since PN is normally tied to other health problems, you should manage all your conditions to improve your quality of life as much as possible.

It is best to work with a case manager who can help you oversee and understand the treatments, consultations, and diagnoses. This way you will get to consult different doctors as many times as needed in order to get the treatments that work best for you. With their healthcare management training, case managers will be able to ensure a smooth and excellent liaison between you and your healthcare team. They can also assist you in getting several doctors’ inputs on the right type of procedures, too, such as plasmapheresis and intravenous immune globulin.

Avoid anything that can cause further nerve damage

Aside from pre-existing health conditions, other factors can also cause PN, such as vitamin deficiencies, particularly vitamin B. As such, you should add a lot of vitamin B to your diet, like milk, eggs, and dark leafy greens. Heavy alcohol consumption can also cause PN, namely alcoholic neuropathy, because of alcohol’s toxicity. Some of the symptoms of this condition include burning pain in the body and allodynia, where normal stimuli like soft touch can cause pain. Repetitive motions and cramped positions for long periods can put too much pressure on the same nerves, causing them to be damaged. But exercise, such as hyperbolic stretching, can relieve any built-up pressure. This specific workout relaxes muscles, helping relieve cramps and spasms.

Exclusively penned for
by Danielle Minerva

Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Author Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Daniel Lopez, D.O. grew up with a lot of pain trying many things that did not help. Realizing that if he could not help himself, he would be unable to help others effectively, he dedicated himself to finding real answers. Since that time, Dr. Lopez has found a unique but powerful style where he has patients from around the country and the world that travel to see him for headaches, TMJ issues, eye issues, neck pain, back pain, and more. Daniel Lopez, D.O. is an osteopathic physician with Osteopathic Integrative Medicine. Prior to that he had a private practice in NYC for 6 years. He is the author of the Amazon best seller "Unwinding the Body and Decoding the Messages of Pain: An In-Depth Look into the World of Osteopathic Physicians and How They 'Magically' Use Their Hands for Healing." He lives in Aurora, CO with his wife and daughters.

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