Who Can Get Neuropathy?

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If you would look left and right in a small gathering, someone around you may be afflicted with neuropathy. Statics show that at least 20% of us will eventually have peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a major cause of falls for older people. You personally may even have neuropathy, but just haven’t been diagnosed because there isn’t any simple neuropathy test, and at this point there isn’t a cure for neuropathy.

A thumbnail description of peripheral neuropathy would be disorders or injuries to the peripheral nerves. These are nerves in our body but outside of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord – (our central nervous system). The peripheral nerves carry messages (signals) between the brain or spinal cord and the skin, muscles and internal organs. Anything that affects the nerves’ ability to function properly is called neuropathy.

Frequently, peripheral neuropathy symptoms begin in the feet and legs, or the hands and arms, because the longest nerves are usually affected first. There are two kinds of peripheral nerves: sensory nerves that tell the brain what is touching our skin, and motor nerves that tell our muscles what actions to carry out. Both nerve types can be affected, but generally neuropathy affects our sensory nerves. Some common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are tingling and burning, electric-like pain, muscle weakness, the legs and feet feel cold, heavy and almost dead, loss of balance, and extreme sensitivity to touch.

Many patients go undiagnosed for years, because each person may describe the problem in his or her own way. Peripheral neuropathy can be misdiagnosed for other conditions. • reflex sympathetic dystrophy • sciatica • carpal tunnel syndrome • plantar fasciitis • leg cramps • fibromyalgia • restless leg syndrome A primary cause is diabetes. Yet diabetes is not the only reason, as there are over a100 known causes.

It is estimated there are 16 million people suffering with non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy and 7 million diabetics affected. The following are some other of the more common causes: • alcoholism • chemotherapy • radiation • Lyme disease • certain surgeries • repeated contact with some chemicals/ or toxins • some medications such as statins • HIV, anemia, overdoses of certain vitamins • nerve impingement from disc conditions There are two categories of symptoms that can occur with peripheral neuropathy: • Negative symptoms (reduced or absence of touch and pain perception) account for loss or reduced feelings such as being able to know if you are standing on something rough or smooth, or hot or cold. Also, there can be a loss in the ability to know whether the muscles are contracting or relaxing and whether the joints are bending.

Many who lack this natural information compensate visually to determine where their bodies are in the space around them. Yet, when sight is reduced (entering a dark room) or even temporary sight loss (closing your eyes in the shower) then a person can become unsteady, lose balance and fall. • Positive symptoms (feeling pain and discomfort) are coming from nerves that are firing spontaneously and without reason. This creates feelings that may not really be occurring. Many patients feel a burning pain, stabbing pain, squeezing or sock-like feelings, or they experience a sensation of walking on ground glass. Others have extreme sensitivity to the lightest touch.

It is common for these sensations to be even worse at night or after walking. Many patients have had to stop driving because they cannot tell how much pressure is needed to press the gas and brake pedals. Diagnosing peripheral neuropathy can be difficult and many people are often misdiagnosed, even after seeing a doctor. Diagnosing requires an interested and experienced doctor, because a routine examination may not detect neuropathy: not all positive and negative results are due to problems with the peripheral nerves. In addition, treatment options are largely centered on drug therapy, and many patients don’t respond well or they develop additional symptoms.

Currently, the conventional medical approach for treating the symptoms of neuropathy would be medications. However, many drugs for neuropathy also have other adverse side-effects, such as joint swelling, upset stomach, and dizziness; usually without good long-term outcomes. Very few types of peripheral neuropathy can be completely stopped or corrected. However mechanical neuropathy (the symptoms are the same many times) that is caused by a disc problem may be treated and be corrected. Neuropathy sufferers do not have to feel hopeless or simply accept that their pain and symptoms cannot be helped.

There are other safe drug-free treatment options that that successfully addressed the pain and symptoms of neuropathy. The following of some alternative options are: • Infrared and Low-level Light Therapy along with other therapies – works by energizing damaged cells and produces multiple healing responses including the increase of nitric oxide in the blood to increase oxygenation to the nerves to reduce inflammation, encourage healing and reduction of pain and other symptoms. • Diet and Nutrition – addressing the importance of proper nutrition and supplementation to aid in controlling glucose levels, and both can play a major role in making proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. • Gentle chiropractic care along with at-home therapies and specific exercises.

If you notice any unusual symptoms such as tingling or weakness in your hands or feet, or loss of feeling and balance, talk to a doctor right away. Early diagnosis offers the best opportunity for controlling the problems of neuropathy. There are successful treatment options for the pain and symptoms of neuropathy other than drugs and addictive pain medications that can contribute to falls.

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