Peripheral neuropathy, caused by damage to the peripheral nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, usually causes weakness, numbness, and pain, typically in the hands and feet. It can also impact other areas and body functions including digestion, urination, and circulation. The condition can affect a wide variety of nerves, so it can have different effects in different places. It can affect just one nerve or multiple nerves at once.
Peripheral neuropathies can be caused by a variety of factors, making it difficult to pinpoint their cause.
One of three causes of neuropathies is:
- Environmental factors such as toxins, trauma, illness, or infection are the root causes of acquired neuropathies.
The following are known causes of acquired neuropathies:
- Alcohol-induced peripheral neuropathy.
- The immune system of the body mistakenly attacks nerves or damages them by overreacting to injury.
- Contaminations like Lyme disease, shingles, or Helps.
- Vitamin deficiency or inadequate nutrition.
- The origin of idiopathic neuropathies is a mystery. This way of classifying neuropathies accounts for as much as one-third of all cases.
Because each nerve in your peripheral system performs a distinct function, symptoms vary depending on the affected nerves.
Nerves are categorized as follows:
- The skin’s sensory nerves receive sensations like temperature, pain, vibration, and touch.
- The motor nerves control muscle movement.
- The autonomic nerves control functions like blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and bladder function.
Peripheral neuropathy may present with the following signs and symptoms:
1. Gradual numbness, prickling, or tingling in the feet or hands that can spread to your legs and arms.
2. Sharp, throbbing, burning, or jabbing pain.
3. Extreme sensitivity to touch.
4. Pain during activities that shouldn’t cause pain, like pain in your feet when you put weight on them or when they’re under a blanket.
5. Lack of coordination and falling.
6. Muscle weakness.
7. Feeling as if you’re wearing gloves or socks when you aren’t.
TREATMENT FOR PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
Over-the-counter (OTC) oral pain meds like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal pain relievers, such as anti-inflammatory medicine and ibuprofen, can be extremely useful in controlling moderate pain. These drugs can harm your liver or stomach if you take too much of them. It is essential to refrain from using them for an extended period of time, mainly if you regularly consume alcohol.
There is a list of additional over-the-counter topical medications at the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy. They consist of:
- Absorbine Jr. is a muscle-soothing blend of menthol and other herbal ingredients. Other creams with menthol in them might also help. Flex-All, Flexgen, Tiger Balm, and Vicks VapoRub are a few examples.
- Cream with capsaicin. The chili pepper oils in this cream cause a heating effect, which can help alleviate pain for some people. There are formulations and brands.
- PN Neuragen This cream, which is made from botanical oils, is made to treat nerve pain in the hands and feet.
- No More Soreness Another botanical anesthetic that may help alleviate neuropathic discomfort is this one.
- Treatments Your doctor can use a variety of medications to control this condition’s symptoms. Plasmapheresis is a blood clotting procedure that removes potentially harmful antibodies from your circulatory system.
- Your doctor will inject an anesthetic directly into your nerves if you have a nerve block.
- Although transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS) does not work for everyone, it is a drug-free treatment that many individuals appreciate.
- During TENS, small amounts of electricity are delivered to the skin through electrodes placed on the skin. This treatment aims to stop nerves from sending pain messages to the brain.
Self-care In addition to over-the-counter pain relievers, many people with peripheral neuropathy have found relief through:
- Have a foot bath with chamomile or nettle leaves for at least 30 minutes.
- Use a heating pad or electric socks.
- Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 10 minutes twice daily in the morning and evening.
- Avoid placing pressure on the affected area by not crossing your legs or leaning on your elbows.
- Seeking social support and activities with others, setting priorities daily, and not doing more than you feel you can.
- Avoiding caffeine and developing a regular bedtime routine to promote sleep.
- Moderate, regular exercise.
- If you smoke or drink alcohol, you should think about cutting back or quitting. When used for extended periods of time, both tobacco and alcohol can exacerbate nerve pain and damage nerves.