Do you have numbness and tingling in your hands or feet, difficulty walking due to pain in your lower body, or experience burning pain especially at night? These are common symptoms of a nerve disorder called neuropathy, one you may have if you are experiencing this kind of discomfort frequently.
And you wouldn’t be alone. Nearly 20 million Americans have some form of neuropathy, and many of them have not been properly diagnosed with the condition or are not aware they have it at all. Fortunately, neuropathy is treatable and at Whitehall Health Centre, we have a variety of treatment options for those with neuropathy to help them feel great again.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, often referred to as peripheral neuropathy because it most commonly affects the peripheral nervous system, is caused by nerve damage and produces pain throughout the body. It can affect one nerve, which is referred to as mononeuropathy, or multiple nerves, which is referred to as polyneuropathy.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
- Burning or tingling in the hands and feet
- Muscle weakness or atrophy (if motor nerves are affected)
- Leg cramping
- Burning pain (especially at night)
- Pain or discomfort in the legs and feet when you walk
- Loss of grip strength
- Extreme skin sensitivity
The condition is generally caused by another medical condition. Medical conditions that are most often associated with causing neuropathy are infections, exposure to toxins, injury or trauma to the nerve(s) or a pinched nerve, alcoholism, kidney or liver disease and diabetes.
Common Types of Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is a very serious concern for people with diabetes. About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes will experience several neuropathies at some point in their lives. Diabetes and other metabolic disorders can impair the body and keep it from processing nutrients into energy, and this can lead to high blood sugar levels that injure the nerve fibers throughout the body, but especially in the legs and feet. People with diabetic neuropathy often experience symptoms of numbness and tingling in their hands and feet.
Autonomic neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, the system of nerves that controls nearly every organ in the body, making this type of neuropathy’s symptoms diverse: from inability to sweat normally to issues with controlling blood pressure. It often ends up affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea or other bowel issues.
Some neuropathies can be inherited through genetics, the most common neuropathy being Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), affecting nearly 1 in 2,500 people in the United States alone. This neurological disorder is named for the three physicians who were the first to identify it: Martin Charcot and Pierre Marie in France, and Howard Henry Tooth in England. There are now over 70 discovered variations of CMT, all of which usually affect the motor and sensory nerves. Because of this, people with CMT often experience weakness in their feet and lower leg muscles, as well as foot deformities such as high arches.
Neuropathy treatment starts with treating the cause of the neuropathy, like treatment for an infection or any deficiencies in vitamins or nutrients. The neuropathy symptoms may not stop immediately, however, and in some cases they may never go away. That is why at Whitehall Health Centre, we provide services that will help to bring comfort to those experiencing symptoms and help them keep the discomfort under control.
Our chiropractor services at Whitehall Health Centre use a mix of physical therapy and massage therapy to treat and relieve neuropathy symptoms. Physical therapy will help strengthen the muscles and balance with exercises, which will help reestablish any lost body functions from neuropathy. Massage therapy will help soothe the current symptoms by relaxing the muscles and working with the nerves to reduce pain.
Transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS) is a type of therapy that reduces nerve pain by inhibiting pain signals from reaching the brain. This happens by placing adhesive electrodes on the skin that release electrical impulses to the nerves at varying frequencies. This treatment is used for about 30 minutes a day until the neuropathy symptoms dissipate.
If you have any questions that haven’t been addressed or are concerned you may have neuropathy, you can Ask The Doctor by completing the form. A member of our staff will contact you as soon as possible.