Peripheral neuropathy is dysfunction, disease, or damage to the peripheral nervous system or nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. When neuropathy occurs patients typically experience numbness, weakness, tingling, burning, or an impaired sensation or movement. Neuropathy typically starts in the hands and feet, however other parts of the the body can also be affected. Peripheral neuropathy is typically identified and categorized in three main ways: according to the amount and distribution of nerves affected (polyneuropathy), the process affecting the nerve (carpal tunnel syndrome), or the type of nerve fiber affected (sensory).
At NeuroCare of Texas in Frisco, Texas, Dr. Ahmed Saeed Ata is a board certified neurophysiology specialist with over twenty years experience treating neuropathy. This expertise allows Dr. Ata to utilize numerous proven modalities including advanced treatment procedures such as transcutaneous electrical nerve simulation (TENS), plasma exchange, immune globulin, or specific physical therapy modalities.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
How Common is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is quite common. It is estimated that 30% of Americans at some point during their life will be affected by neuropathy. This condition affects people of all ages however it is more common among adults over the age of 65 years. Other common risk factors include: diabetes, alcohol use, or metabolic syndrome. Neuropathy is highly reported in patients with diabetes, roughly 60-70% of diabetic patients report symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the most common peripheral neuropathy.
How is Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosed?
Neuropathy diagnosis occurs after patients begin experiencing numbness, pain, and tingling. The first step is to rule out a lesion in the nervous system as a potential cause. After this is ruled out Dr. Ata will determine a diagnosis based on your medical history, symptoms, a physical examination, laboratory results, and additional diagnostic testing. Dr. Ata starts with a thorough physical exam and neurological evaluation including testing specific reflexes as polyneuropathy can limit certain reflexes. Dr. Ata may recommend a variety of diagnostic tests based on your exam. The most common utilized tests for neuropathy are EMG, NCV, skin biopsy, sweat test, tilt table test, and specific laboratory tests.
What Are Treatment Options for Peripheral Neuropathy?
Is Peripheral Neuropathy Reversible?
Neuropathy can occur for countless reasons and may be temporary or permanent depending on the cause. If your neuropathy is occurring due to a curable condition (such as a vitamin deficiency) it is possible this type of neuropathy can be reversed. There are no known cures for most peripheral neuropathy, early treatment is necessary to possibly eliminate the underlying cause however most treatment focuses on symptom management. Other factors that determine if a peripheral neuropathy can be reversed are: the age of the patient (the older we are our body does not heal as quickly or as well), type of nerve that is damaged (motor, sensory, autonomic), and severity of the injury (severed, bruised, crushed).
There are over one hundred different types of neuropathy, some are acute but many are chronic. Typically by the time a patient is diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy there has been some damage to the nerve that can not be fixed. If the underlying cause of your peripheral neuropathy is not curable there are many things you can do to help reduce your symptoms. The best way to control a peripheral neuropathy is to manage and control any medical condition that increases your risk of peripheral neuropathy. A healthy diet with exercise, avoiding harmful chemicals or toxin exposure, reducing or avoiding alcohol intake, having your vitamin levels checked and corrected if deficiencies are present, and avoiding repetitive motions can all help limit the severity of peripheral neuropathy.
I May Have Peripheral Neuropathy What Should I Do?
If you are experiencing symptoms of neuropathy you should see your healthcare provider immediately as untreated neuropathy has the potential to lead to permanent nerve damage. Neuropathy can also be a indication of a more serious health condition.
To learn more about peripheral neuropathy or get the neurological care you need, call us 214-618-0808 at NeuroCare of Texas or request an appointment with Dr. Ata through our website.