We might not realize it, but our nervous system is a vital part of our anatomy. Without it, our brain would not be able to function or communicate with the rest of the body. Even automated movements, such as breathing, would be impossible. When one of these nerves becomes damaged, it can cause a numb and tingling sensation on both sides of the body. Aside from the initial pain, neuropathy can lead to other serious health conditions down the road.
Neuropathy is generally described as a condition that causes nerve damage. When it comes to the diagnostic process, your physician will need to distinguish the type of neuropathy that you have through different neurological examinations, blood tests, imaging tests, and nerve function tests. Through these diagnostic procedures, the physician will specify where the neuropathy is from and will evaluate all the treatment options from there.
If you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing neuropathy. In fact, over 50% of diabetic individuals will suffer from nerve damage. Additionally, neuropathy can develop over time as a result of degeneration, making this disease fairly common among individuals over the age of 65. Aside from diabetes-related causes and old age, other factors that may increase the risk of developing neuropathy include obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It might seem intimidating, but neuropathy is not the end of the world. A great number of patients with neuropathy have been able to control their symptoms through a variety of conservative methods.
If you have been diagnosed with a form of neuropathy, or if you are at risk and want to take preventative measures, allow this guide to offer you insight into some of the different treatment options available for neuropathy patients. Even though neuropathy can be a source of debilitation, it should not slow you down.
So, you’ve been diagnosed with neuropathy. What next? Upon diagnosis, your physician will likely go over some treatment options with you, including conservative methods and surgery. In many cases, if the condition is caught early on, the patient can be treated through simple lifestyle changes such as dieting and an overall healthier lifestyle.
The following treatment methods are effective, but different forms of neuropathy require different approaches. Before diving into a new treatment, make sure to consult with your doctor to ensure it will be beneficial for you.
One of the most difficult aspects of neuropathy is the pain that comes with it. Whether you are taking your daily walk or participating in your favorite workout, neuropathy can prevent you from performing these activities, and the associated pain is nearly impossible to ignore. Luckily, there are an array of medications available that are capable of diminishing the pain by adjusting nerve pathways.
These medications can be extremely beneficial, and if recommended by a doctor, they can be prescribed to patients suffering from nerve damage pain. Before they are prescribed, your physician will analyze different aspects of your health including pre-existing health conditions and different lifestyle questions.
Some of the medications commonly prescribed by physicians to treat patients with neuropathy may include:
> Anti-seizure medications
> Topical patches or cream
If you are interested in learning more about medicinal treatment options for neuropathy, your physician can help guide you in finding the perfect medication.
Not only is neuropathy painful, but it can also hinder your motor nerves, which can make your brain forget how to do simple movements. For some patients, this may be as severe as making it difficult to hold your phone, let alone complex activities such as driving. One common way to treat neuropathy is through different therapies.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common and general form of the disease. This condition can lead to a lack of coordination and difficulty staying stabilized. Even after the damage has been done, there are therapeutic options that can help you rebuild your strength and reintroduce you to movements the neuropathy made you forget.
Physical therapy; We know you hear about it all the time, but it’s because it works! Physical therapy uses a combination of exercises and hands-on therapy to relieve pain, build muscle, and relearn balance. When treating nerve damage, physical therapists will often utilize techniques such as a soft tissue massage or nerve gliding to target the nerve pain.
Occupational therapy is another effective form of therapy for neuropathy, specifically for older individuals. This can retrain patients on how to prevent themselves from falling and how to complete basic everyday activities.
If you are considering therapeutic treatment options, it is important to understand that your dedication to the treatment will define your results. Sometimes, patients enter these processes and expect to be healed without making significant lifestyle changes, but the two are complementary.
3. Lifestyle Changes
If you have ever been diagnosed with a condition that affects you physically, you’ve probably heard your physician suggest you consider making a few lifestyle changes to increase the effectiveness of complementary treatments. We know it isn’t always the best thing to hear, but we promise it will give you the best results.
One of the most important lifestyle changes necessary for nerve damage treatment is regular exercise. This can reduce pain, strengthen muscles, and control blood sugar. When beginning exercise, you should first work towards improving your balance and muscle strength. Effective exercise includes stretching, balance training, and aerobic exercise. Before jumping into any intense exercises, make sure to consult your doctor and see if it is safe for you. After all, neuropathy affects everyone differently.
Another lifestyle change starts with dieting. This does not mean you have to limit your diet to vegetables, but that you should ensure you are getting enough of the necessary vitamins and nutrients. If you are searching for specific foods that can effectively benefit your neuropathy, vegetables such as kale and Brussel sprouts contain alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that can help repair damaged nerves. If you are interested in learning more about dieting with neuropathy, your physician or a dietitian can help you curate a diet that is best for your condition.
Finally, adopting healthy habits can have a significant effect. Smoking and alcohol consumption are tied to neuropathy. In fact, alcohol consumption is the second leading cause of this nerve condition since it is toxic to nerve tissue. If you have already developed the condition, it is strongly recommended that you completely stop or limit your drinking to ensure the neuropathy does not worsen.
If conservative treatment options have been ineffective, there are certain forms of neuropathy that can be treated through surgery. Patients with compression-related neuropathy have the option of nerve decompression surgery, which reverses the symptoms that come with neuropathy and can prevent amputation.
Patients with peripheral neuropathy have the option of peripheral neuropathy surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon will decompress the nerves, releasing the pressure and relieving the pain associated with neuropathy. This procedure can be completed on an outpatient basis and the recovery time is not extremely long.
If a patient decides to pursue surgery, it is important that they adopt new habits after the procedure, to ensure that symptoms of neuropathy do not return. This can include eating healthier, exercise, and complementary therapies such as physical therapy or occupational therapy.
If you have been diagnosed with neuropathy or are looking into preventative measures, it is important to understand the different treatment options associated with this condition. Now that you have a better idea of the diagnostic process and treatments, it is time for you to take the next step. Connect with us here at Integrated Pain Management and find the treatment option that works best for you.