May 1-8, 2022 is National Neuropathy Awareness Week. An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from some type of peripheral neuropathy. WinSanTor aims to spread awareness about this condition, which affects the lives of millions of people around the world.
Living with peripheral neuropathy can be frustrating, but there are ways to manage this condition. This article will define peripheral neuropathy, its causes and symptoms and will help you learn ways to treat and manage your neuropathy.
What is peripheral neuropathy?
Have you ever wondered how your brain sends and receives messages? Our nerves carry signals in the form of electric impulses to and from different organs to the brain. These nerves along with the brain and spinal cord form the nervous system. They control all our actions hence any damage to these nerves can alter these communication signals.
Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder which involves damage to our peripheral nerves due to underlying conditions or complications of injuries. It can either affect one nerve (i.e. mononeuropathy) or multiple nerves (i.e. polyneuropathy).
What can cause peripheral neuropathy?
There are over 100 different types of neuropathies. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by:
- An underlying condition, such as diabetes
- Infection, such as HIV
- A side effect of drugs used to treat other conditions, such as chemotherapy
- Auto-immune disorders
- Hereditary causes
In some cases, it is difficult to find the underlying cause of the neuropathy and is termed “idiopathic neuropathy.”
What are the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?
Symptoms of neuropathy can differ from person to person. It may also depend on which nerves are damaged and the extent to which the damage has occurred. However, some common symptoms include:
- Pain: Pain can vary from acute to chronic. For some, it can feel like a shooting sensation.
- Numbness: Damage to the nerves can cause a feeling of numbness, which can lead to reduced grip. Consequently, objects may slip out of your hands. The risk of falling is also increased since numb feet cannot properly feel the ground.
- Tingling: Tingling is a common symptom that people describe as “pins and needles.” Although not painful, it can be bothersome.
- Burning sensation: Damaged neurons (nerve cells) can misfire or become overactive, which leads to a burning sensation in your hands and feet. The range of pain can vary from person to person.
- Changes in sensation: Neuropathy patients can suffer from hypersensitivity issues. This can affect the way their body sends signals to their brain (i.e. room temperature water may seem hotter or colder than it would feel to someone without neuropathy).
- Loss of balance and wobbly motion: Loss of grip and balance can affect their gait and walk. Neuropathy patients are prone to avoidable falls.
Patients often feel as though they are wearing gloves or socks when they are not. They may experience exercise intolerance or sensitivity or pain with touch, commonly known as allodynia. Since our nerves help us send messages to the brain and spinal cord, the damage to the nerves can alter our sensation to temperature and pain.
What are the available methods for treatment?
Although there is currently no FDA-approved treatment specifically for peripheral neuropathy, there are other ways to manage your symptoms and condition.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate pain. Consult your physician to discuss possible drug interactions that may affect underlying conditions.
- Diet: A healthy and balanced diet will help you stay healthy and fit. Additionally, people eat gluten-free or low-carb diets that work for them. Stick to foods you are comfortable with and diets that have worked best for you.
- Staying active: Regular exercise helps both the body and mind. For diabetics, staying active keeps sugar levels in check and, in turn, relieves stress and pain.
- Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing and meditation can help you deal with your diagnosis as well as manage pain.
Assistive devices and mechanical aids can help patients with chronic pain live well and independently. Here are three devices to help you take care of yourself and stay safe:
- Ambulatory aid: Handrails around the house can provide the essential grip and prevent unwanted falls. Additionally, mechanical crutches can help patients walk around without losing balance.
- Sensors: Temperature sensors can help patients deal with their hypersensitivity symptoms. Sensors can check the temperature of the water, ensuring a safe bath or shower.
- Shoes: Proper and comfortable shoes are essential for people suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The right shoes protect your feet, preventing injury such as cuts and bruises. Comfortable shoes can also help you maintain a proper stance and gait.
Your physician can recommend various treatments depending on your condition to help ease your symptoms. Consult your physician if you notice the slightest change in your symptoms. Living with peripheral neuropathy can be challenging, but with early diagnosis and treatment, you can manage your pain.
Do you suffer from peripheral neuropathy and want to spread awareness? Share your peripheral neuropathy story with us to increase awareness about this common yet neglected condition.
WinSanTor is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of treatments for peripheral neuropathies. We believe in creating a solution that works and brings relief to millions who are struggling with this disease. Learn more about our company, our drug and subscribe to our newsletter.
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- “Symptoms”. The Foundation For Peripheral Neuropathy
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