Peripheral Neuropathy Causes, Symptoms, and Best Treatment Methods
Peripheral neuropathy falls under the category of diseases caused by traumatic injuries, inherited causes, infections, problems with metabolism, and excessive exposure to toxins. However, diabetes plays the most significant role in the development of this particular condition.
Symptoms and treatment for peripheral neuropathy will depend on its type and stage. Not all the patients will go through the same signs, which is why their treatments may differ. Still, peripheral neuropathy can be successfully handled with acupuncture, which has delivered terrific results in treating patients who had different kinds of neuro conditions.
We are here to dispel some common myths regarding the acupuncture procedure and show you positive effects of acupuncture for peripheral neuropathy.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that comes as a result of damage to the nerves found outside the brain and spinal cord, also known as peripheral nerves.
These nerves carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body; once damaged, they leave consequences to a person’s movement, sensation in the arms and legs, often causing pain.
What are the Common Types and Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy?
There are even more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy that have been identified so far. Each of them brings different symptoms, which depend on the nature of the nerves that are damaged.
Therefore, we can divide them into three groups:
- Autonomic nerves are those that control a person’s organs to regulate the activities people can’t control consciously – breathing, food digesting, gland, and heart functions.
- Motor nerves are responsible for controlling the movement of all muscles in the human body that are under conscious control. These include muscles used for walking, grasping things, or talking.
- Sensory nerves transmit information that includes the feeling of a light touch, temperature, or the pain caused by a cut.
Based on the number of damaged nerves, neuropathy encompasses four types:
- Mononeuropathy refers to damage to a single peripheral nerve. It’s usually caused by physical injury or trauma that comes as a result of an accident or prolonged pressure on a nerve, resulting in numbness, tingling, and pain. The most common examples of mononeuropathy include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome results in a painful wrist and hand disorder, which is often associated with repetitive tasks on a computer keyboard.
- Bell’s palsy is a condition that’s also known as “facial nerve disorder.”
- Polyneuropathy is a more common type of this condition, and it arises due to the damage of multiple peripheral nerves. It can be caused by a variety of factors that include alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, cancer, or kidney failure.
The following types refer to the condition that’s caused by diabetes or unknown factor.
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy comes as a result of diabetes, mainly when a person’s blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.
- Idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed when doctors are unable to determine the underlying cause of it.
Another common group of factors that can cause neuropathy includes the aspects of inheritance and acquisition:
- Hereditary neuropathy is not as common as the previously mentioned types, but it can occur. It’s caused by the damage of peripheral nerves that are genetically passed from parent to child, and it’s characterized by weakness in legs and arms. It often appears between mid-childhood and age 30.
- Acquired neuropathy can develop due to environmental factors, such as trauma, exposure to toxins, illness, or infection. Other factors include:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Conditions where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the nerves
- Certain medications
- Lyme disease, AIDS, or shingles
- Bone marrow disorders
- And more.
What are Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms and How to Mitigate Them?
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms will depend on the condition stage, as well as on the type of damaged nerve. However, the following ones appear in most situations:
- Gradual numbness
- Tingling in your feet or hands, which often spends through your legs and arms
- Oversensitivity to touch
- Pain during activities that shouldn’t be painful
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling as if you were wearing gloves or socks even if you’re not
- Paralysis (when motor nerves are affected).
In the case of autonomic nerve damage, you may feel the signs of:
- Heat intolerance
- Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
- Digestive problems
- Frequent changes in blood pressure, which cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
Almost all the mentioned symptoms are followed by pain, which sometimes can’t be successfully treated with painkillers. To relieve pain healthily and efficiently, go for acupuncture treatments, which will show significant results after a couple of sessions.
By stimulating particular body points, acupuncture impacts the blood flow, alleviating the pain at the same time. The entire procedure is safe, especially when certified practitioners in the field perform it.
Acupuncture can also help you mitigate the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, primarily because it’s focused on treating the following issues:
- Digestive disorders, including gastritis, hyperacidity, constipation, and diarrhea
- Neurological and muscular disorders, such as headaches, neck pain, numbness, weakness, etc.
- Blood pressure disorders, which include consistent changes in blood pressure levels.
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How Is Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosis Determined?
If you notice any of the symptoms we have just listed, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Early diagnosis can provide better chances for controlling your condition and enhance the results of adequate treatment.
To determine the right diagnosis, a doctor may order the following tests:
- Blood tests can help identify vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, immune dysfunction, and other condition that could cause neuropathy development.
- Imaging tests are crucial for detecting the signs of tumors, herniated disks, or other conditions. Such tests may include a CT or MRI.
- Nerve function tests include the use of EMG (electromyography) that records electrical activity in your muscles. That way, a peripheral neuropathy specialist can determine whether there’s a problem with your nerve function.
Doctors can request additional examinations if they find them necessary. For example, they may need to look at your full medical history, which includes your symptoms, lifestyle, exposure to toxins, drinking habits, and a family history of neuro diseases.
Neurological examination may also be included in the diagnosis process. It means that doctors may check your tendon reflexes, your muscle and strength tone, your ability to feel and respond to particular sensations, as well as your coordination and posture.
What is the Most Efficient Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment?
The truth is that the neuropathy can be treated with different methods, which include the aspects of both alternative and Western medicine.
The truth is that the alternative methods have a much broader application than you might’ve thought. The use of Chinese herbs and acupuncture treatments is becoming more and more prominent among people who’re dealing with peripheral neuropathy, and such an approach has brought a lot of valuable and measurable results so far.
We have already mentioned the efficiency of acupuncture, but we haven’t explained its core benefits yet. Even though it hasn’t been studied as much as the Western medicine approaches, there are tons of researches that prove its effectiveness in treating a variety of neurological conditions, including peripheral neuropathy.
Acupuncture for Peripheral Neuropathy
Acupuncture is the most common form of traditional Chinese medicine, which involves the insertion of small, thin, and stainless steel needles into the specific acupoints found across the body.
The stimulation of particular acupoints can impact the blood and energy flow (qi or chee), which is responsible for stimulating the body’s healing abilities and boosting the body’s response to pain.
Apart from being used primarily for treating pain, acupuncture is widely practiced for addressing the consequences of stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurodegenerative conditions that are considered incurable.
It can be practiced together with electric stimulation (electroacupuncture), heating with the mugwort herb (moxibustion), or even without using needles (acupressure). All types are entirely safe, but you should always consult your practitioner before starting any treatment.
Although acupuncture brings almost no risks, the treatment is not recommended when:
- You have bleeding disorders, or you’re taking blood thinners
- You’re pregnant
- You have heart issues or pacemaker (avoid electroacupuncture).
It’s vital to be honest with your practitioner and listen to their advice. They’ll probably ask you to bring your medical reports before starting any treatments since that’s the best way to determine the right treatment and number of sessions that will help your condition.
Acupuncture can also bring significant improvements to your lifestyle and help you get rid of bad habits that often include excessive alcohol use, smoking, and unhealthy diet. Acupuncture can raise your awareness about the harmful effects of the mentioned habits, eliminating the risk of nerve damages and peripheral neuropathy.
Your certified acupuncturist will focus on the roots of your condition and not on the state itself. That way, the results of the treatment will be of long-standing and more efficient, making sure your entire organism feels the improvements.
Benefits of Chinese Herbs for Peripheral Neuropathy
Chinese herbs combined with acupuncture can bring outstanding results to patients with neuropathy.
Chinese herbal medicine is generally advantageous for treating neurological conditions, especially when a practitioner creates a customized herbal formula based on their patient’s needs and existing symptoms.
The sings of peripheral neuropathy can be successfully treated with particular Chinese herbs that help you alleviate pain, improve nerve conduction, reduce inflammation, and impact the nerve recovery. Besides, they have shown remarkable outcomes in regulating blood sugar levels, which is essential for treating neuropathy caused by diabetes.
Western Medicine Peripheral Neuropathy Treatments: Medicines and Therapies
Some methods used in everyday Western medicine can help relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Since almost every sign is followed by pain, your doctor may suggest the use of the following drugs:
- Pain relievers
- Anti-seizure medications
- Topical treatments, including Capsaicin cream
Some therapies have also shown excellent results in treating signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. They include:
- TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
- Plasma exchange
- Physical therapy
So far, the combination of Eastern and Western approaches has brought the best results, which is why that’s the approach we use to practice at Makari Wellness. Even 85% of our patients responded well to therapies, which is vital information that may contribute to global acupuncture research.
The number of sessions and the therapy response will depend on a patient’s condition and willingness to improve, which is why we always recommend you visit us as soon as you’ve been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. That way, we can both expect better and quicker results that will last long.
5 Tips on How to Prevent the Condition Given by a Peripheral Neuropathy Specialist
Diabetes and unhealthy lifestyle habits are among the most common factors that lead to the development of peripheral neuropathy. If you are at risk of being affected by this particular condition, consider the following tips that will help you prevent its onset:
- Take care of your blood sugar levels because people whose blood sugar is poorly maintained are at a higher risk of being affected by neuropathy.
- Exercise to improve muscle strength and help control blood sugar levels. You may consider yoga, jogging, or tai chi.
- Stop smoking since cigarettes often affect circulation and increase the risk of foot problems.
- Consider a healthy diet to ensure the intake of essential vitamins and minerals. Also, make sure that your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain.
- Avoid alcohol because its abuse can lead to severe consequences, which include peripheral neuropathy.
Makari Wellness – Meet the Latest Methods of Acupuncture for Peripheral Neuropathy
Our patients inspire us day by day, which is why we are doing our best to provide them with the most remarkable treatments that include acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine practices.
Mike Woodworth from Makari Wellness is a licensed acupuncturist who’s been treating neurological diseases successfully for more than 15 years. He’s combining the practices of Eastern and Western medicine, making sure his patients feel significant improvements, including even a full recovery.
Don’t hesitate to contact us at (888) 871-8889 and book your first peripheral neuropathy treatment at Makari Wellness.