What is peripheral neuropathy?
The numbness, tingling or pain, usually in hands and feet which occur as a result of damage to the peripheral nerves.
The symptoms include:
Tingling in the hands or feet
Sharp or stabbing pain
Numbness in the limbs
Unable to grip things in the hands
Drop in the blood pressure
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is also known as diabetic polyneuropathy. The risk of diabetic polyneuropathy further increases in case of :
Other causes are:
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Any injury to the nerves
Overactivity of the immune system
Infections including shingles, Lyme disease, botulism, HIV and diphtheria.
Inflammation of blood vessels.
Treatment options for peripheral neuropathy
Choosing the best treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on the cause or they might be symptomatic. Many kinds of therapies are available to treat peripheral neuropathy. There is a high success rate due to the availability of the best hospitals for peripheral neuropathy in India.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation)
In this procedure, electrodes are placed on the skin and minimal electric current at varying frequencies is delivered to the patient. This is mostly done in patients who have diabetes. This works by inhibiting pain signals to the brain. This is for 30 minutes in each session. The treatment needs to be done for a month at least. In severe cases, it is used as an adjunct to medications.
Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin
This procedure is used when the neuropathy is due to overactivity of the immune system and inflammatory conditions.
Plasma exchange involves drawing out the blood, taking out the antibodies and proteins which are responsible for causing an immune reaction. The blood is then injected back into the body.
On the other hand, intravenous immunoglobulin therapy includes receiving high levels of proteins that act as antibodies.
If you have muscle weakness due to peripheral neuropathy, the right choice of treatment for you is physical therapy. You may also used walker, cane or wheelchair if needed.
Ergonomic casts or splints
Muscle weakness in the limbs can also be treated by Ergonomic casts or splints. These are used for neuropathy in feet, legs, hands, and arms. The splints help in keeping the position of the limb in the correct position, especially while sleeping.
In cases where the neuropathy is caused by nerve compression, for example by a tumor. The correct choice is surgery to remove the surgery.
MedicationSome medicines are also used to provide the symptomatic relief including painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol. The dosage of the painkillers should be kept low and are ineffective. The medications include:
Antidepressants like amitriptyline
Seizure medications like gabapentin
Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor like cymbalta
Other than this topical creams are used, if the affected area is limited and the patient does not want to take the systemic medications. For example Capsaicin, this is applied over the affected area 3-4 times a day. This may cause skin irritation and burning sensation initially.
Other than this following therapies may be used as an alternative and complementary treatment to other therapies :
Supplemental therapy like vitamin B1 and alpha-lipoic acid.
A recent advancement has also been made. However, it is not yet proven to completely cure the condition. This is called Scrambler therapy. It involves electrocardiograph like pads are placed around the affected area.