“Is neuropathy curable?” That’s the leading question from my neuropathy patients. You’re not alone. At least 20 million Americans have this often crippling condition, and scientists believe many more cases go undiagnosed. It’s important to see specialists who are experts at the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathy. Let me explain more about this condition and whether there’s a cure.
What are Neuropathy Causes?
Although many conditions or injuries can cause peripheral neuropathy, diabetes is the most common since chronically elevated blood sugar levels damage your nerves. Other causes include:
- Trauma or Intense Injury (e.g., car accident, sports injury)
- Repetitive Stress Injury
- Some medications (chemotherapy)
- Some autoimmune diseases (e.g., Sjogren’s syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome)
- Infections (e.g., HIV, Epstein-Barr, Lyme disease, shingles)
- Nerve compression or entrapment due to excessive growth (e.g., tumors, cysts)
- Kidney or liver disease
- Vitamin deficiencies
Sometimes it can be challenging to identify your exact cause of peripheral neuropathy. This is why it is important to have a neuropathy professional do a thorough examination.
What Are Your Symptoms?
The term peripheral neuropathy describes many types of disorders rather than a single neuropathic disorder due to its varied location and extent of the damage. Everyone experiences the disease in different ways.
For example, depending on which nerves are damaged, you may experience symptoms related to the function of the affected nerves. Some people notice symptoms related to temperature or touch while others have symptoms related to movement or even blood pressure. Symptoms may be felt at hands, feet, or both. The term peripheral neuropathy describes many types of disorders rather than a single neuropathic disorder due to its varied location and extent of the damage. Everyone experiences the disease in different ways. Neuropathy treatment for feet and hand symptoms may be similar.
The most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- tingling, numbness, or prickling sensations in the feet or hands. This could feeling could spread up the arms or legs
- pain that may be sharp, throbbing, or burning
- high sensitivity to temperature or touch (e.g., pain when the bedding rests on your feet)
- possibility of failing coordination and muscle weakness
- feeling like you’re always wearing socks or gloves
- trouble moving and in severe cases paralysis
Less often neuropathy affects your autonomic nerves and may cause symptoms such as changes in blood pressure or heart rate which may make you dizzy, digestive or urinary problems, heat intolerance or issues with sweating, and weight loss.
Is Neuropathy Curable?
The answer to this question depends on the nature and extent of your nerve damage. That’s why seeing a specialist soon after you exhibit symptoms of neuropathy is essential. Some cases of peripheral neuropathy can be reversed or cured with treatment.
For many people, however, the focus is on preventing further nerve damage from taking place and managing the associated symptoms. At Truspine, our experts evaluate your unique case to customize a treatment plan for optimal results.
In all cases, treatment usually begins by identifying and managing the underlying medical cause when possible. This helps your provider best understand what therapeutic modalities will help control and alleviate your symptoms.
Your primary care provider may prescribe medication to help manage your pain, including topical medications, which contain numbing agents, and oral medications. Your physical therapist may help improve mobility and balance. A neuropathy specialist will be treating the underlying cause through a proven approach.
Lifestyle changes also play a significant role in managing and treating peripheral neuropathy. Eliminating (or limiting) alcohol, making sure your blood sugar stays controlled through a healthy diet and staying physically active to help maintain a healthy body weight are important steps in reversing or managing neuropathy.
Ready to learn more about neuropathy and the treatments that may work for you? Consider a free phone consult or schedule an in-person assessment. No one should live in pain.