At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, one of the conditions we treat frequently is neuropathy. Neuropathy is often known as peripheral neuropathy because it is defined as damage to the peripheral nerves — those outside of the brain and spinal cord. Because our doctors focus on pain reduction and restoration of function through nonsurgical methods, we are the perfect professionals to address the odd and multifaceted condition known as neuropathy.
The condition is difficult to deal with because of the wide variety of disturbing symptoms it manifests, most often in the hands and feet, and because it is problematic to treat. Our practice, however, has a history of success in treating the disorder since we routinely administer both conventional and alternative (complementary) noninvasive therapies to our patients and because we specialize in managing sensory and motor issues in patients of all ages.
Causes of Neuropathy
Underlying hereditary and metabolic disorders can cause neuropathy. Diabetes, for example, is a common cause of the problem which occurs in about half of all diabetic patients. Other causes of neuropathy include:
- Alcoholism and dietary deficiencies, particularly lack of B vitamins
- Autoimmune diseases (e.g. diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome)
- Certain medications used in chemotherapy
- Exposure to toxins, such as lead, mercury, and industrial chemicals
- Infections (e.g. Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis, and HIV)
- Other disease processes that affect the kidneys, liver, thyroid, or connective tissue
- Some types of cancer, including those that affect the bone and bone marrow
- Traumatic accidents that put extreme pressure on peripheral nerves or even sever them
- Tumors, both benign and malignant, that put pressure on particular nerves
As with so many other neurological issues, in some cases, no cause can be determined. Such instances of neuropathy are said to be idiopathic (of unknown origins).
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Depending on whether sensory, motor, or autonomic nerves are affected, symptoms of neuropathy may include:
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet, sometimes radiating to arms and legs
- Pain that may be stabbing, throbbing, or burning
- Extreme sensitivity to touch so that slight contact (e.g. a blanket on one’s feet) can cause pain
- Poor coordination that may result in falls
- Phantom sensations of being touched or covered
- Muscle weakness
- Heat intolerance and disturbances related to sweating
- Digestive, bowel, or bladder problems
- Blood pressure irregularities, resulting in dizziness or lightheadedness
- Heat intolerance/abnormalities in the process of sweating
- Bowel, bladder, or digestive problems
- Changes in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness
It should be noted that, because neuropathy can interfere with sensation and motor control, patients with the condition may be at increased risk of burns and infections (because they may not feel, and therefore may not treat, early signs of extreme heat and bacterial invasion). When patients experience weakness, loss of sensation, dizziness, and/or paralysis, they are also more susceptible to falls, other accidents, and further injuries.
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we pride ourselves on being careful and thorough diagnosticians. When you come to our offices with symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, we will take a comprehensive medical history and perform a careful physical exam. Once we determine that more precise diagnostic testing is required, we will choose the necessary procedures appropriate to your case, such as:
- Neurological examination
- Blood tests to detect vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, abnormal immune function, or other underlying disease conditions
- Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans to look for tumors or other structural abnormalities
- Electromyography (EMG) to record electrical activity in muscles to detect any nerve damage
- Nerve conduction studies to show the speed of nerve responses to electric current
L.I. Spine Rehabilitation Medicine Offers Cutting-Edge Treatments
As previously noted, our practice provides several treatment options for neuropathy. Choosing which one, or which combination, to use in your case depends on your precise symptoms, what our diagnostic tests have shown, and, to some degree, on your personal preferences. Our stable of therapy options includes:
- Medications — painkillers, anti-seizure drugs, topical preparations (creams, pain patches), antidepressants (e.g. Cymbalta, Effexor) *
- PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy
- Physical therapy
* Two things to note: antidepressants have pain-relieving properties, as do anti-seizure drugs. We do not prescribe either because we think you have seizures nor because we think your symptoms are “all in your head.” Also, we generally do not prescribe opioids for pain since they are highly addictive.
Contact our Accomplished Physiatrists to Combat Your Neuropathy Today
Dedicated as we are to approaching our patients as whole human beings rather than an assortment of body parts, we will work hard to treat your peripheral neuropathy. We want to provide you with relief from the pain and peculiar sensations (or lack of sensations) that plague you.
Aware that most often a combination of methods works best to defeat neuropathy, we will team up with you to create a course of treatment that will build up your physical strength, emotional confidence, and sense of well-being as your neuropathy symptoms abate. Remember, at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we have the skills, tools, and positive attitude to help you heal naturally. Contact our office today for your first appointment.