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Peripheral Neuropathy


 

Peripheral neuropathy is the result of damaged or dysfunctional peripheral nerves that send incorrect or incomplete signals to your brain and spinal cord.  It can cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the areas of injury.

Nerve injuries affecting one nerve is called mononeuropathy. An example of mononeuropathy is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist.  When many peripheral nerves throughout the body malfunction, the condition is called polyneuropathy.

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy include:

  • loss of strength
  • feeling odd sensations-heat, cold, tingling, burning
  • lack of coordination, falling
  • sharp or burning pain
  • extreme sensitivity to touch
  • numbness

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy can include:

  • nerve injury, trauma
  • repetitive stress
  • chronic diseases such as diabetes or autoimmune diseases
  • alcoholism
  • bacterial and viral infections
  • exposure to toxins
  • certain antibiotics, chemotherapy agents and other medications
  • poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies

Diagnosis of Peripheral Neuropathy can be made by:

  • evaluating your medical history
  • physical examination
  • a nerve conduction study (NCV/EMG)
  • imaging tests such as CT scan or MRI
  • nerve/skin biopsy

Treatment usually begins with correcting the underlying condition causing the neuropathy.  The goal is to reverse the damage to the nerves that are causing the pain or dysfunction.

Treatments may include:

  • pain relievers
  • prescription medications such as anticonvulsants and antidepressants
  • physical therapy
  • surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves (such as carpal tunnel release)
  • topical pain creams
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • spinal cord stimulation (SCS)
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