Neuropathy is a condition that damages the nerves, causing pain, numbness, and other symptoms. The nerves that are most commonly affected by neuropathy are those in the hands and feet, but the condition can also affect the nerves in other parts of the body, such as the arms, legs, torso, and face. The most common type of neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves in the hands and feet. Other types of neuropathy can affect the nerves in the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion.
- Diabetes: Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy. High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves over time.
- Alcoholism: Heavy drinking can damage the nerves, especially the nerves in the hands and feet.
- Infections: Some infections, such as HIV/AIDS and leprosy, can damage the nerves.
- Certain medications: Some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and certain antibiotics, can damage the nerves.
- Trauma: Injury to the nerves, such as from a car accident or a fall, can damage the nerves.
- Inherited conditions: Some inherited conditions, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can damage the nerves.
- Autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can damage the nerves as part of the body's attack on itself.
- Vitamin deficiencies: Vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin B12 deficiency, can damage the nerves.
- Toxins: Exposure to toxins, such as lead or arsenic, can damage the nerves.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can damage the nerves.
The symptoms of neuropathy vary depending on the type of nerve damage and the nerves that are affected. Some common symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Pain: The pain of neuropathy can be described as burning, tingling, stabbing, or shooting. The pain can be mild or severe, and it can be constant or intermittent.
- Numbness: Numbness is a loss of feeling in the affected area.
- Weakness: Weakness in the affected area can make it difficult to move or use the affected part of the body.
- Changes in sensation: People with neuropathy may experience changes in sensation, such as feeling cold or hot when the skin is actually at a normal temperature.
- Autonomic symptoms: Some people with neuropathy experience autonomic symptoms, such as problems with sweating, blood pressure regulation, or bladder control.
There is no cure for neuropathy, but there are treatments that can help to manage the symptoms. Treatment for neuropathy may include:
- Medications: There are a number of medications that can help to relieve the pain of neuropathy. Some medications that are commonly used to treat neuropathy include gabapentin, pregabalin, and duloxetine. These medications work by blocking the pain signals that are sent to the brain.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve strength and range of motion in the affected area. This can help to reduce pain and improve function.
- Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help people with neuropathy learn how to adapt to their condition and perform everyday tasks. This may include learning how to use special equipment or how to modify their environment to make it easier to get around.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be an option to relieve pain or improve function. For example, surgery may be used to remove a tumor that is compressing a nerve or to repair a nerve that has been damaged.
The best treatment for neuropathy will vary depending on the individual's specific symptoms and the underlying cause of the neuropathy. If you have any concerns about neuropathy, talk to your doctor. They can help you to determine the best treatment plan for you.
Here are some additional tips for managing neuropathy:
- Control blood sugar levels: If an individual has diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels can help to slow the progression of neuropathy.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can damage the nerves, so it is important to avoid alcohol if an individual has neuropathy.
- Get regular exercise: Exercise can help to improve circulation and reduce pain.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to heal.
- Manage stress: Stress can worsen pain, so it is important to find ways to manage stress. This may include relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is important for healing, so it is important to get enough sleep.
If you have any concerns about neuropathy, talk to your doctor. They can help you to determine the best treatment plan for you.
- Wide width shoes: People with neuropathy often experience numbness and tingling in their feet, which can make it difficult to wear shoes that are too narrow. Wide width shoes provide more room for the toes to spread out, which can help to reduce pain and discomfort.
- Extra depth shoes: Neuropathy can also cause the feet to swell, so it is important to choose shoes that have extra depth. This will help to prevent the toes from rubbing against the inside of the shoe, which can lead to blisters and other injuries. All Anodyne diabetic shoes provide extra depth to accommodate swelling.
- Closed-toe shoes: People with neuropathy should avoid wearing open-toe shoes, as this can increase the risk of injury. Closed-toe shoes provide more protection for the feet and help to prevent cuts, scrapes, and other injuries.
If you are unsure about whether or not your symptoms require medical attention, please consult your foot doctor.