Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, Types, & Treatments
Updated: Feb 9, 2019
Peripheral Neuropathy Overview
Do you suspect you’ve fallen victim to Peripheral Neuropathy? That’s no surprise considering more than 20 million people in the U.S. have some form of the disease, and that’s not even including the thousands more who are suspected to have it but go undiagnosed due to its complexity! So, if you landed on this page because you suspect you’re one of the many suffering and you want to know more, you’ve come to the right place.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Defining Peripheral Neuropathy can be a bit difficult, as more than 100 types have been identified. It is the name given to all conditions that involve damage to the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). Therefore, to understand Peripheral Neuropathy, you must first understand the PNS. The PNS is the messenger between your Central Nervous System (CNS) and the rest of your body. The CNS houses your brain and your spinal cord, so the job of the PNS is quite a large one.
The PNS is made up of different kinds of nerves: autonomic, motor and sensory. Each type of nerve transmits a different kind of signal, so damage to different nerves causes different types of symptoms:
Autonomic Nerves – are in charge of regulating the work that humans do subconsciously, like breathing and digesting food. They also control subconscious functions of the heart and glands.
Symptoms: The autonomic nerves affect the axons in small-fiber neuropathies. The axons are what transmit pain and temperature sensations. Consequently, when these nerves are damaged, individuals suffer through excess sweating, heat intolerance and extreme sensitivity to light touches.
Additionally, individuals may experience the inability to expand and contract the small blood vessels that regulate blood pressure.
One of the rarest symptoms that may occur is difficulties eating. The nerves that control the esophagus have the potential to be impacted by autonomic nerve damage.
Motor Nerves – control the opposite of what autonomic nerves control. They are in charge of all muscles that are under conscious control. For example, these are the nerves that are used for walking, grasping objects and talking.
Symptoms: When these nerves are damaged, muscle weakness occurs.
More uncommon symptoms include painful cramps, involuntary muscle twitching and even muscle shrinking.
Sensory Nerves – relay feelings of light touch, temperature and pain.
Symptoms: Damage to these nerves can cause a wide range of symptoms because of the large role they play in the body. The most noticeable symptom is a result of damage to large sensory fibers, which causes abnormality in the way a person would feel touch and vibrations. Patients say that it feels like they are wearing gloves are some type of fabric between their skin and what is touching them. This makes complex movements quite difficult. For example, individuals have reported difficulty walking and securing buttons.
Peripheral Neuropathy can affect just one of those nerves or multiple. The different combinations fall under different classifications:
Mononeuropathy – when it affects one nerve. Ex) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Multiple Mononeuropathy – when it affects two or more nerves in different areas.
Polyneuropathy – when it affects many nerves. Most people who suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy fall under this category.
So You’ve Got the Science Behind It Down but… What Does this Mean for You?
If you believe you’re suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy, you probably want to know what to expect. These are the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy that have been reported by those suffering from the disease:
· Balance issues
· Sensation of walking on eggshells
· Extreme sensitivity to touch
· Feeling like a portion of your body is ‘asleep’
· ‘Shocking’ feelings (sharp, jabbing, freezing pain)
· Lack of coordination
· Muscle weakness
· Heat intolerance
· Bowel or bladder issues
· Digestive problems
· Changes in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness
This is not a comprehensive list of all possible symptoms, but these are the most common ones. If you suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy, you can have any combination of these issues. The most common place that they will manifest is the hands and feet. That is because the nerve damage that causes the symptoms is caused by a lack of blood flow. When nerves aren’t getting enough blood, they begin to shrivel up, due to lack of the appropriate amount of nutrients. The nerves that are last to get blood are found in the hands and feet, because they are the furthest from the heart.
How Did I End Up with This: What’s the Cause?
There isn’t one specific thing that causes Peripheral Neuropathy to occur. In fact, there are dozens of catalysts to the disease, such as:
· Autoimmune Disease
· Bone Marrow Disorders
· Inherited disorders
· Other diseases
· Vascular and/or blood problems
· Vitamin Deficiencies
What’s My Next Step?
The worst thing you can do when you get Peripheral Neuropathy is wait to take care of it. Early detection and treatment aid in preventing further damage to your PNS. This is crucial because once you have sustained 85% nerve loss, there is nothing we can do for you, and we want to help!
The second you suspect you are suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy, you should give us a call at (561) 738-0222 to schedule a no-charge consultation. Once you’re in our office, we will get to the root of your issue by getting you a detailed neurological and vascular evaluation. This will guide us in creating your treatment plan. During your treatment, our main goals are to:
1) Increase Blood Flow
2) Stimulate Small Fiber Nerves
3) Decrease Brain-Based Pain
Why Should I get Treatment?
Often, people are tempted to decline treatment because their symptoms are not severe. This isn’t wise because as time goes on, they will get worse, have less potential to be reversed, and you will probably gain more symptoms in addition to your original ones.
Another common thing that people do is turn to alternative treatments, but their side effects can be just as bad as having Peripheral Neuropathy. Some alternative treatments people use are:
Prescription Drugs. Antidepressants and anticonvulsant drugs are the most commonly prescribed drugs to patients suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy. There are two main issues with these pills. The first, is that they do not treat the underlying condition. Prescription drugs merely mask the pain from the main problem of nerve degeneration. Secondly, they affect all nerves, not just the ones that aren’t working properly. The brain is made up of nerves, so these drugs can change the way these patients act, think and function. There is also the potential of addiction, dizziness, lightheadedness, and all other side effects listed on the labels of said drugs.
Capsaicin Cream. Some people turn to this topical treatment to avoid the drugs. It is not nearly as effective as the advanced and holistic chiropractic care we provide. It offers only mild improvement in symptoms, and that is if the patient can bare the pain. It contains a substance from hot peppers, causing it to induce burning and irritation on the application site.
Lidocaine Patches. These are patches you put on your skin to offer pain relief. They can cause drowsiness, dizziness and numbness at the site of application.
So, if you want a side-effect-free solution to your Peripheral Neuropathy, visit Dr. Siegel at Health Solutions of the Palm Beaches today!
To sign up for your neuropathy reversal consultation, click here.