Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves, causing pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including diabetes, chemotherapy, autoimmune diseases, and vitamin deficiencies. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor to determine if you can benefit from physical therapy. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of neuropathy and how to diagnose it.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in the body. It can cause pain, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, or weakness in the hands and feet. Neuropathy can be caused by a variety of factors including diabetes, chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, vitamin deficiencies such as B12 deficiency or thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1), alcohol abuse or excessive use of certain medications such as antibiotics or anti-seizure medications.
Signs and Symptoms of Neuropathy
The most common signs and symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Burning sensations or sharp pains in the extremities
- Weakness in the muscles of the hands and feet
- Loss of sensation in affected areas
- Difficulty walking due to muscle weakness or balance issues
- Loss of reflexes in affected areas
- Muscle cramps or spasms
In order to diagnose neuropathy your doctor will likely perform a physical exam as well as order tests such as blood tests for diabetes or other conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Your doctor may also order an electromyogram (EMG) which measures electrical activity in your muscles; an MRI which can show any damage to your nerves; nerve conduction studies which measure how quickly signals travel through your nerves; or a nerve biopsy which involves taking a small sample of tissue from one of your nerves for further examination. Your doctor may also ask about any medications you are taking that could be causing nerve damage.
Treatment Options for Neuropathy
Once you have been diagnosed with neuropathy there are several treatment options available depending on what is causing your symptoms. These include lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or limiting alcohol consumption; physical therapy; medications such as antidepressants or anticonvulsants; topical creams; acupuncture; electrical stimulation therapy; surgery; and dietary supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids. NASA-developed infrared light therapy, whole-body vibration therapy to increase peripheral circulation, nutritional therapy focused on specific areas, and mild electrical stimulation regimens to block brain signals associated with sensory pain are some of the most cutting-edge treatments available today. Talk with your doctor about what treatment options are best for you based on what is causing your neuropathic symptoms.
Neuropathy can be a painful condition that affects the nerves in the body causing numbness, tingling sensations, burning pains, weakness in muscles, loss of reflexes and difficulty walking. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to talk with your doctor so they can diagnose what is causing them and determine what treatment options are best for you based on what is causing them.