Living with peripheral neuropathy can be full of ups and downs from day to day, especially if you have been recently diagnosed. Managing this painful condition is frustrating at best, and can feel overwhelming at times. Patients often experience changing symptoms and debilitating pain. Learning more about potential treatment options should be a first step for anyone confronted with this condition, since treatments can go a long way to improving quality of life for those who are suffering.
Physiology & Pathology
Understanding a little more about the physiology of peripheral neuropathy, let’s start at defining the nerves involved in this debilitating condition. Peripheral nerves are the longest nerves in the body, extending all the way from the hands to the feet. When damaged, common symptoms are pain, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. Unfortunately, these symptoms are far more severe and far-reaching than this. Some have reported experiencing such symptoms as stabbing pains and incapacitating weakness.
Better Insight For A Better Outcome
Today, 20 million people in the United States are affected by this condition, yet many are not aware of how it affects our loved ones, leaving the patient and their family helpless as to how to improve their overall quality of life. Below are five common conceptions that those with or know someone with peripheral neuropathy should be aware of for better understanding this condition.
1. Diet Can Exacerbate Symptoms
Your diet may either help or hurt your nerves. To improve symptoms, avoid foods with excess sugar, artificial sweeteners, and refined grains. These foods may irritate the nerves causing nerve pain. In fact, studies have shown that a diet consisting of low-fat and whole foods supplemented with exercise may have a positive impact on neuropathy in reducing pain symptoms.
2. Symptoms Are More Complex Than Just Tingling
While pain and tingling are common and the easiest symptoms to recognize they are not the only ones. There are three types of peripheral nerves: sensory, autonomic and motor. Each can show different symptoms. Sensory nerve damage causes the frequent pain, tingling and numbness. Motor nerve damage may cause difficulty walking or picking up items, and moving the arms. Autonomic nerve damage affects more of your involuntary functions, like breathing, sweating, blood pressure and more.
3. Diabetes Is the #1 Cause of Neuropathy
Diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy today. Over 70% of diabetes patients develop symptoms. To avoid diabetes manage your blood sugar carefully. This can be a great way to prevent or even reverse the effect of diabetic neuropathy.
4. There Are Other Causes Besides Diabetes
While diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy, other causes may include: alcoholism, traumatic injury, chemotherapy, as well as a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is well documented that it may be very difficult for the medical community to identify the exact cause of each patient’s peripheral neuropathy. For cases where the cause cannot be defined, doctors will diagnosis the patients with “idiopathic neuropathy”.
5. Certain Medications Can Damage Nerves
For those suffering from diabetes, drugs such as metformin have been shown to encourage damage to the nerves. This association has been linked in a recent study to vitamin B12 deficiency, which may result in neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a very serious condition that should be managed as soon as even the simplest symptoms arise. Talking to your doctor and following their specific treatment plan, as well as being equipped with better insight into this condition, may better equip you in combatting the symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy allowing you to still live a healthy and high quality of life. What other things have you heard about peripheral neuropathy? Let us know!
Tags: peripheral neuropathy, diet, medications, diabetes, b12 deficiency, pain, tingling
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