Understanding Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Neuropathy is a condition that occurs due to damage to the nerves outside the brain and the spinal cord. It results in pain, numbness, and weakness. The symptoms usually occur in the hands and feet but can affect other organs and body functions. 

The function of the peripheral nervous system is to transmit information. This is information from the brain and central nervous system (spinal cord) to the rest of the body. The condition can affect one or multiple nerves. It pays to understand neuropathy, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. 


What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?


Peripheral nerve damage can be a result of various factors. Diabetes, autoimmune diseases, bacterial and viral infections, and tumors can lead to neuropathy. Other contributing factors include inherited disorders, bone marrow disorders, and liver and kidney disease. 

Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by acute alcoholism, certain medications, and exposure to poisons. Nerve injuries and vitamin B deficiency can also cause the condition. Sometimes, the condition may be idiopathic (no identifiable cause). 


Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

The various nerves in the body serve different functions. Symptoms of the disease will depend on the nerves affected. They include:

  • Jabbing or sharp pain in the limbs

  • Burning or throbbing pain in the hands and feet

  • Severe sensitivity to touch

  • Muscle weakness

  • Lack of coordination or falling

  • Pain during simple activities such as putting weight on the feet

  • Numbness in the lower extremities

  • Impaired sexual function

  • Paralysis

If the condition affects the autonomic nerves, patients experience excessive sweating, heat intolerance, bladder or bowel issues, and digestive problems. Patients may also experience light-headedness or dizziness due to falls in blood pressure. 


Risk Factors for Neuropathy


Poorly controlled diabetes is a common risk factor for peripheral neuropathy. Others include alcohol abuse, poor diet (vitamin B deficiency), HIV, and hepatitis B and C. People with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have a high risk of developing neuropathy. Exposure to toxins and using repetitive motions are also risk factors. People with a family history of the disease are more predisposed to it. 


Diagnosing Peripheral Neuropathy


Health providers will conduct a physical exam and various tests to diagnose peripheral neuropathy. The doctor will check the patient’s medical history and symptoms. A neurological exam involves checking tendon reflexes, muscle tone, and strength. 

The doctor will also check the patient’s ability to experience certain sensations, posture, and coordination. Tests include imaging, blood, and nerve function tests. A nerve biopsy can check for abnormalities, while a skin biopsy checks the reduction in nerve endings.


Treatment for Neuropathy


There are various ways to treat peripheral neuropathy, including the following:

  • Pain medications

  • Antiseizure medications

  • Antidepressants

  • Topical treatments

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

  • Physical therapy

  • Surgery

Chiropractic care can help relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. The chiropractor can develop a treatment plan based on the individual’s health condition. 

Failing to manage neuropathy can lead to complications. These include infections, falls, burns, and skin injuries. Management of the underlying health conditions can prevent neuropathy. It is also essential to make healthy choices, such as eating a healthy diet and getting adequate exercise. 

For more on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for neuropathy, visit Dakota Clinic of Chiropractic. Our office is in West Fargo, North Dakota. Call (701) 566-5455 to schedule an appointment today.