Peripheral Neuropathy: What Is Nerve Pain?
Peripheral neuropathy is a symptom rather than a disease in itself. It occurs when nerves are damaged, resulting in pain and loss of functions like motor movement or the sense of touch. Peripheral neuropathy commonly develops in the longest nerves first, affecting the toes and feet. At Greater Austin Pain Center, we understand that correcting the underlying causes of peripheral neuropathy can help resolve symptoms. Physical/occupational therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes may be recommended as well.
Your brain and the rest of your nervous system constantly exchange messages about your body. Some of these nerve pathways have specific tasks. Motor nerves transmit signals about muscle movements, while sensory nerves send signals about sensations of heat, cold, and pain. Functions like blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and body temperature are automatically controlled by your autonomic nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy typically begins in the ends of the longest nerves, such as the sensory nerves in the toes and feet. However, peripheral neuropathy can affect other nervous systems, and the symptoms will depend on what functions the nerves control. For example, if the autonomic nervous system is involved, bowel and bladder problems may be present.
- Damage to nerves or nerve groups, usually inflicted by diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
- Alcohol abuse
- Diseases of the kidney, liver, thyroid, and connective tissues
- Viral/bacterial infections
- Trauma/pressure on nerves
In affected nerve groups:
- Sharp, burning pain
- Tingling or numb sensation
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Review of medical history
- Blood tests
- Neurological exam
- Lifestyle changes
Nerve Pain Treatment in Austin, Kyle, Dripping Springs
There are many ways to treat and manage peripheral neuropathy. The treatment that you receive at Greater Austin Pain Center depends on many factors, such as its severity, underlying cause, and the nerve groups that are involved. For some people, treatment of the underlying cause results in improvement of symptoms.
Several types of medications or combinations of medications may be recommended. Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, and local anesthetic patches may be prescribed.
Exercising regularly, eating healthy, and abstaining from nicotine and alcohol will significantly improve your odds of success in nerve pain management.
Physical and occupational therapy may help improve muscle strength, coordination, and range of motion. Your therapists may recommend braces or splints to position your joints. They may also use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to deliver a small electrical current to nerves, helping to relieve pain.
Lifestyle changes can help peripheral neuropathy. For those with pain in the feet and lower legs, examine your feet regularly and report any changes to your doctor. You may need to look into changing your footwear. Exercising regularly, eating healthy, and abstaining from nicotine and alcohol will significantly improve your odds of success in nerve pain management.
Am I At Risk?
Get to know the common risk factors tied to peripheral neuropathy:
- Compressed nerves
- Alcohol abuse
- Diseases that affect the kidney, liver, thyroid, or connective tissues
- Viral or bacterial infections, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Exposure to toxins or poisons
Greater Austin Pain Center can help you deal with neuropathic pain. If you are experiencing nerve pain as a result of another medical condition, please contact us today. We can help you with treatments and pain management techniques that can significantly increase your quality of life.