Treatment of Neuropathy

Neuropathy is, in a nutshell, damage to nerves. Neuropathy may be caused by a number of conditions, including excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes, vitamin deficiency, and injury. Neuropathy may occur in a number of areas of the body and may affect different systems. The autonomic nerves (those that control body systems), motor nerves (those controlling movement), and sensory nerves (those that register sensation) may all be affected. Treatment for neuropathy may depend on the types of nerves affected.

The most common type of neuropathy, as far as the affected type of nerves goes, is peripheral neuropathy. This affects sensory nerves in one or more specific areas of the body. The specific areas affected depend on the patient. Whatever the location may be, a peripheral neuropathy patient may experience burning, stabbing pains or a sensitivity to touch in the affected area. At best, peripheral neuropathy is an inconvenience, but it may become much more severe, in some cases progressing to a disabling point. Treatment of peripheral neuropathy has very specific goals – manage any underlying cause, slow or stop the progression of the damage, and treat symptoms. Treatment often involves specialists, such as neurologists or pain management specialists. These specialists work in close contact with the rest of your medical team to determine the best treatment plan for your individual condition and symptoms. Common methods of treating peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Medication 

    • Pain Relievers – Mild symptoms may be treated with general over-the-counter painkillers. More severe symptoms, on the other hand, may require stronger prescription painkillers.

    • Anti-seizure Medications – Medications that were originally designed to treat epilepsy have shown strong evidence of being capable of relieving nerve pain.

    • Capsaicin – Capsaicin, a substance naturally found in hot peppers, has been discovered to provide pain relieving benefits for many people. It is compounded into a cream which is applied to the skin near the affected area. Capsaicin does have its downsides, however. It often irritates the skin where it is applied, which for some people leads to intolerable discomfort. Even for patients who respond well to capsaicin treatment, doctors often recommend this is used with other treatments.

    • Antidepressants – Some antidepressants may interfere with the process of pain signals traveling to the brain, thereby stopping painful sensations.

  • Therapies 

    • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulations (TENs) – Gentle electrical current of varying frequencies is delivered via adhesive pads placed on the skin with the goal of reducing pain.

    • Physical Therapy – Physical therapy may teach a patient to move in a way that lessens irritation to affected nerves. It is also extremely beneficial to sufferers of motor neuropathy, as it helps build up muscles.

    • Surgery – If a patient’s neuropathy is caused by pressure on the nerves, such as by a tumor, surgical measures may be effective in removing or reducing said pressure. 

Only your medical team can determine the best manner of treating your individual neuropathy. Open and honest conversation with your doctor is the most important first step to receiving adequate treatment.


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