How to Know if You Have Peripheral Neuropathy

Twenty million Americans are estimated to have peripheral neuropathy. However, experts fear there may be many more people who go undiagnosed because of the complexity of the condition.

Knowing the warning signs and risk factors is important. Spotting warning signs early can help you get a diagnosis as early as possible and begin treatment.

Sachida Manocha, MD, of Interventional Pain Center in Worthington and Newark, Ohio, has helped many patients get to the bottom of what’s causing their pain and other symptoms. One common cause is peripheral neuropathy. In this blog, Dr. Manocha explains what peripheral neuropathy is and how it can be treated.

About peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the conditions that can result if your peripheral nerves get damaged or diseased. The peripheral nerves are all the nerves that exist outside of your brain and spinal cord.

If these nerves get damaged or diseased, this can interrupt communications between your brain and spinal cord and the rest of your body. And this can impair muscle activity, alter sensations in your arms and legs, and cause pain.

Peripheral neuropathy risk factors

One of the most prevalent risk factors for peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. Unmanaged diabetes elevates blood sugar levels, which can cause nerve damage. Between 60-70% of the 34.2 million Americans with diabetes have some degree of peripheral neuropathy. 

Other causes of peripheral neuropathy include having certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, infections, tumors, and bone marrow disorders. Your risk is also higher if you have alcoholism, a vitamin deficiency, or exposure to certain poisons or toxins. 

Warning signs of peripheral neuropathy

Many patients with peripheral neuropathy experience tingling, numbness, and pain in their extremities — usually their feet and legs. This could progress to muscle weakness, balance problems, and paralysis.

However, there are many other potential warning signs of peripheral neuropathy. Depending on the location and type of nerve affected, you might also experience:

You might also have abnormal blood pressure changes that trigger lightheadedness or dizziness. 

Diagnosing peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy symptoms are disruptive and progressive. The first step in getting a diagnosis is scheduling an appointment with an expert, such as Dr. Manocha here at Interventional Pain Center. 

Dr. Manocha begins with a thorough review of your medical history, symptoms, and lifestyle. Then, he completes a physical exam, including a standard neurological assessment to gauge your balance, strength, reflexes, and sensitivity. He also orders lab tests to check for other diseases that could be contributing to your symptoms. 

Dr. Manocha may also order MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays. He also uses nerve conduction studies and electromyography to locate and evaluate nerve damage. In some cases, he may order a nerve biopsy or a neurodiagnostic skin biopsy. 

Treating peripheral neuropathy

Having peripheral neuropathy doesn't mean that you're condemned to a life of pain and other disruptive and uncomfortable symptoms. Dr. Manocha works with you to implement a personalized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and restore your quality of life. Depending on your needs, your program could include medication, dietary changes, supplements, or peripheral nerve stimulation.

If you're concerned about peripheral neuropathy or you live with chronic or disruptive pain, Dr. Manocha can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Interventional Pain Center today.

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