Trinity Pain Medicine Associates
Board Certified Pain Management & Board Certified Anesthesiology located in Fort Worth, TX
Perhaps the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy – nerve damage in your arms, legs, hands, and feet – is a complication of diabetes, but you may experience neuropathy because of injuries, infections, exposure to toxins, or genetic reasons also. The sensations accompanying neuropathy can include pain, so Dr. Ashley M. Classen and the team at Trinity Pain Medicine Associates in Fort Worth, Texas and Dallas, Texas are the people to see when your symptoms interfere with your life. Call or click today to book an appointment.
Neuropathy Q & A
What is neuropathy?
Any damage to nerves in your body is medically called neuropathy, and perhaps the most common form is peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage to your extremities. Sensations that accompany this damage can range from tingling and numbness to severe, sharp pain. Muscle weakness in the affected areas may also be an issue.
Nerves have three major classifications, based on their functions. Sensory nerves detect temperature, vibration, touch, and pain, while motor nerves control muscle movement. Autonomic nerves work with involuntary body systems, such as heartbeats, bladder functions, and digestion.
Most peripheral neuropathy symptoms tend to affect sensory and motor nerves, accounting for pain and weakness, but autonomic nerves can be affected too. Problems with these may include digestive, bladder, and bowel issues, body temperature issues, and changes to your blood pressure.
Mononeuropathy affects a single nerve, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which involves the median nerve through the wrist. Most cases of peripheral neuropathy, however, involve more than one nerve.
What causes neuropathy?
A symptom rather than a disease, neuropathy has many causes. Some of the more common reasons for peripheral neuropathy include:
- Autoimmune diseases: such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and Sjögren’s syndrome
- Diabetes: over half of all diabetics develop some form of neuropathy
- Medications: some drugs cause neuropathy, such as those used for cancer chemotherapy
- Injuries involving nerves: compressed, damaged or cut nerves
- Viral infections: including Lyme disease, shingles, hepatitis C, and HIV
- Vitamin deficiencies: including those that commonly accompany alcoholism
- Exposure to toxins: such as heavy metal poisoning
In some cases, there’s no connection between a physical condition, disease, or disorder and neuropathy. This is called idiopathic neuropathy.
How is neuropathy treated?
Often, treating the condition that’s causing neuropathy stabilizes the nerve damage, then the symptoms of any non-reversible damage can be addressed. There are several approaches to treatment with medication. Both over-the-counter and prescription pain relief may be effective. Anti-seizure and antidepressant medications may also work as pain relievers, even if you don’t have seizures or depression.
Topical pain relievers may also improve neuropathy symptoms. Products using capsaicin may work for those who can tolerate the skin irritation that it sometimes causes. Lidocaine patches are another skin-based method of pain relief.
Other treatment options include physical therapy to treat damage to motor nerves, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and occasionally surgery to treat neuropathy caused by nerve compression.
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