Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that happens when the nerves carrying messages between the brain and spinal cord are diseased or damaged.
Peripheral nerves comprise the network that connects the spinal cord and brain to other parts of the body such as skin, muscles, and internal organs.
There are several potential causes of peripheral neuropathy. The diagnosis is usually done through physical exams and blood tests.
Treatment of peripheral neuropathy
Treatment of peripheral neuropathy is about managing the condition to reduce the symptoms. If your medical exam reveals that there is no underlying condition, then the doctor may suggest a few things to see if the symptoms will improve.
There are a number of medications used to treat conditions related to peripheral neuropathy. Some of them may be effective while some may not, depending on how your body reacts to them.
It is always recommended that you carry out enough tests to ascertain that the symptoms you are suffering from are actually those of peripheral neuropathy.
• Pain relievers
There are over-the-counter medications that are usually recommended for peripheral neuropathy symptoms. They include anti-inflammatory drugs and nonsteroids. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, then your doctor can recommend painkillers.
It is however important to note that medications that contain opioids such as oxycodone and tramadol can lead to addiction and dependability.
Medicines such as pregabalin and gabapentin normally used to treat epilepsy can also be used to relieve pain. You may experience side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness.
Some tricyclic antidepressants like doxepin, nortriptyline, and amitriptyline have also been found to help a lot in relieving pain. They do that by interfering with the chemical process taking place between the spinal cord and the brain.
• Topical treatments
Medical experts believe that capsaicin cream containing an element usually found in hot pepper can also improve peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
Although you may experience skin burning and irritation effects while applying the cream, it will lessen within a short time.
Another form of treatment you can try is lidocaine patches. If you apply the cream to your skin using the correct procedure, then you are likely to experience pain relief.
There are a number of procedures and therapies that have also proven to improve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. However, ensure that the therapy is conducted by a qualified doctor after diagnosis.
• Intravenous immune globulin and plasma exchanges
This procedure helps in suppressing the activities of the immune system. It is more beneficial for people with specific inflammatory conditions.
Plasma exchange is basically the removal of a patient’s blood together with proteins and antibodies from the blood system and returning only into the body.
• Physical therapy
In case you are experiencing muscle weakness, a doctor may recommend physical therapy so as to improve body movements. You can also try foot and hand braces, a wheelchair, or a walker.
• Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
This is a process where electrodes are put on the skin of the skin to release a gentle electric current at different frequencies. This procedure should be done at least 30 minutes every day to get maximum benefits.
Surgery is often recommended if the peripheral neuropathy condition is as a result of pressure on the nerves. Surgery will help to release the pressure from the nerves and bring about comfort to the patient.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You can also manage peripheral neuropathy by doing the following:
• Exercise: Exercising regularly such as taking a walk at least three times a week can help reduce neuropathy pain, control sugar levels and improve muscle strength
• Quit smoking: Smoking can affect blood circulation and increase foot problems among other neuropathy complications
• Healthy eating: a healthy diet will ensure that the body gets the right nutrients and vitamins. Always include vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains in your diet.
• Monitor your sugar levels: In case you have diabetes, ensure that you closely monitor your blood glucose levels to improve neuropathy symptoms.