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What Are the Common Symptoms of Neuropathy? A Comprehensive Guide

Detailed illustration of human hands with wrinkled skin and visible veins reaching out against a starry background, symbolizing the pain and discomfort associated with neuropathy symptoms

May 11, 2024

Understanding Neuropathy Symptoms: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction

Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is a condition that occurs when nerves in the body’s extremities – such as the hands, feet and arms – are damaged. This often causes weakness, numbness and pain in these areas. Neuropathy symptoms can vary depending on the type of nerves affected – motor, sensory or autonomic.

The symptoms of neuropathy can greatly impact a person’s quality of life and ability to perform everyday activities. If you are experiencing any neuropathy symptoms, it’s important to consult with a medical professional who specializes in treating this condition. At Asuta Health in Overland Park, our team provides cutting-edge neuropathy treatment to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • Neuropathy symptoms usually start gradually and worsen over time
  • Common symptoms include numbness, tingling, burning pain, muscle weakness and balance issues
  • Symptoms depend on the type of nerves damaged – motor, sensory, or autonomic
  • Neuropathy can be caused by diabetes, chemotherapy, cholesterol medications, vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, and many other factors
  • Early diagnosis and treatment is key to preventing permanent nerve damage

Types of Neuropathy

There are several different types of peripheral neuropathy, each with its own set of symptoms and underlying causes:

Sensory Neuropathy

This type occurs when the sensory nerves, responsible for transmitting sensations like temperature and touch, are affected. Symptoms may include:

SymptomDescription
NumbnessLoss of feeling in hands/feet
Tingling“Pins and needles” sensation
SensitivityIncreased sensitivity to touch
Burning/stabbing painMay be worse at night

Motor Neuropathy

Motor nerves control muscle movement. When these nerves are damaged, symptoms can include:

SymptomDescription
Muscle weaknessDifficulty moving arms/legs
Muscle crampsPainful contractions
Muscle twitchingUncontrollable twitching
Decreased reflexese.g. Knee-jerk reflex

Autonomic Neuropathy

The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and bladder function. Damage to these nerves can cause:

SymptomDescription
LightheadednessEspecially when standing
Digestive issuesBloating, nausea, constipation
Bladder problemsIncontinence, difficulty urinating
Heat intoleranceUnable to sweat normally

At Asuta Health, we understand how overwhelming it can be to experience these varied neuropathy symptoms. Our team will work closely with you to identify the specific type of neuropathy you have and develop a personalized treatment plan to address your unique needs.

Causes of Neuropathy

Neuropathy has many potential causes. Some of the most common include:

Diabetes

Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage nerves throughout the body. In fact, peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common complications of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Chemo-induced

Chemotherapy and radiation, common treatments used for cancer, have been shown to cause neuropathy, typically in the hands and/or feet.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamins E, B1, B6, B12, and niacin are crucial for proper nerve function. Deficiencies in these key nutrients can lead to neuropathy symptoms.

Autoimmune Disorders

Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Guillain-Barré syndrome cause the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues, including the nerves.

Infections

Certain viral or bacterial infections like Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis B and C, and HIV can cause neuropathy.

Toxic Substances

Exposure to heavy metals like lead and mercury, industrial chemicals, and certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs can damage peripheral nerves.

Inherited Disorders

Some people inherit genetic mutations that make them more susceptible to developing neuropathy. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is one example.

No matter the underlying cause of your neuropathy symptoms, our specialists at Asuta Health in Overland Park are committed to getting to the root of the problem. We utilize advanced diagnostic tools to pinpoint the precise cause so we can provide the most targeted and effective neuropathy treatment.

When to Seek Medical Attention

In the early stages, neuropathy symptoms may seem more annoying than debilitating. However, it’s crucial to see a doctor at the first sign of symptoms, as nerve damage can worsen and become irreversible over time.

You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • A cut or sore on your foot that doesn’t seem to be healing
  • Burning pain, especially at night
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Changes in digestion, urination or sexual function
  • Weakness that interferes with daily activities

At Asuta Health, we understand that seeking treatment for neuropathy can feel overwhelming. We strive to create a welcoming and compassionate environment where you can feel comfortable discussing your symptoms and concerns. Our team will take the time to thoroughly evaluate your case and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment.

Diagnosing Neuropathy

To diagnose neuropathy, your doctor will start by taking a thorough medical history and performing a physical exam. They may check your tendon reflexes, muscle strength and tone, ability to feel sensations, and posture and coordination.

Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may also order tests, including:

  • Blood tests to check for vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, infections, and immune system disorders
  • Imaging tests like CT or MRI scans to look for herniated disks, tumors or other abnormalities
  • Nerve function tests such as electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies
  • Nerve biopsy to examine a small sample of nerve tissue
  • Skin biopsy to look for reduction in nerve endings

At Asuta Health in Overland Park, we are equipped with the latest diagnostic technologies to accurately assess your neuropathy. Our team includes skilled physicians who are highly experienced in identifying even the most complex cases of nerve damage.

Treating Neuropathy Symptoms

The goal of neuropathy treatment is to manage the symptoms and slow down, or even stop, the progression of the disease.  Treatments may include:

Pain Relief

Over-the-counter pain medications, prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications can help relieve neuropathic pain.

Therapies

Various therapies can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life:

TherapyBenefits
Physical therapyImproves mobility and strength
Occupational therapyAssists with daily activities
Massage therapyDecreases pain and stiffness
Chiropractic carePromotes proper alignment

Dietary Changes

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is important for overall nerve health. Avoiding refined carbohydrates and saturated fats can help manage blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.

Supplements

Taking certain supplements under medical supervision may help alleviate neuropathy symptoms:

SupplementPotential Benefits
B vitaminsEssential for nerve health
Alpha-lipoic acidAntioxidant that reduces inflammation
Acetyl-L-carnitineImproves nerve function
Omega-3 fatty acidsAnti-inflammatory properties

At Asuta Health, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to neuropathy treatment. Our customized treatment plans combine traditional medical interventions with innovative therapies to provide comprehensive symptom relief and promote nerve regeneration. We work closely with each patient to monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.

Preventing Neuropathy

While not all cases of neuropathy can be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Manage diabetes through diet, exercise, and medication as directed by your doctor
  • Eat a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of B vitamins
  • Avoid repetitive motions that can compress nerves over time
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes which impairs circulation
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on nerves
  • Wear proper protective equipment when working with toxic chemicals

If you have a family history of neuropathy or any of the risk factors discussed above, it’s especially important to take a proactive approach to nerve health. The team at Asuta Health in Overland Park can help you implement lifestyle changes and preventive strategies to lower your chances of developing debilitating neuropathy symptoms.

Living with Neuropathy

Learning to live with neuropathy often involves making certain lifestyle adjustments and prioritizing self-care. Some tips include:

  • Checking your feet daily for cuts, sores, or changes in sensation
  • Wearing soft, loose cotton socks and padded shoes
  • Using assistive devices like handrails and grab bars to prevent falls
  • Staying physically active to improve muscle strength and reduce pain
  • Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation
  • Joining a support group for people with chronic pain conditions

At Asuta Health, we understand the challenges of living with neuropathy and are here to support you every step of the way. In addition to providing cutting-edge treatments, we offer resources and education to empower our patients to take an active role in managing their symptoms and optimizing their quality of life.

Conclusion

Neuropathy is a complex condition with a wide range of symptoms that can significantly impact daily life. However, with early diagnosis, proper treatment, and lifestyle modifications, it is possible to effectively manage neuropathy symptoms and prevent further nerve damage.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of neuropathy, don’t wait to seek medical attention. The knowledgeable and compassionate team at Asuta Health in Overland Park is here to help you every step of the way, from diagnosis through treatment and ongoing management. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward reclaiming your health and well-being.

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