Peripheral nerves carry information to and from the brain. They also carry signals to and from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy means these nerves don’t work properly. Peripheral neuropathy may be damage to a single nerve or a nerve group. It also may affect nerves in the whole body. Tingling, burning, numbness and/or deep pain in the arms and legs may be an early sign of nerve damage. These feelings often start in the toes and feet. You may lose feeling in your legs and arms. Damage to the nerves can make it harder to control muscles and cause weakness. The risk of falling increases. Also, nerve damage is common. Often, no cause can be found. Some nerve diseases run in families. Diabetes is the most common cause of this type of nerve problem. It happens when you have high blood sugar levels over a long time.
Basic Treatment Plan for Foot Neuropathy
Finding proper relief often involves individualizing treatment options or just trying to ease symptoms. The main treatments for neuropathy are based on finding a cause and then providing the appropriate intervention. Diabetics benefit from aggressive blood sugar control. When B12 deficiency or thyroid disorders are the cause, then medical management of these conditions can improve the individual’s neuropathy. Certain neuropathies due to autoimmune disorders can be treated with drugs that regulate the immune system.
Other forms of treatment directly go after the symptom of foot neuropathy. Prescription drugs can help, but dizziness, sedation, sleepiness and swelling can sometimes negate the benefits. Another option is topical ointment designed to relieve localized pain. Sometimes, a doctor will recommend anodyne therapy, which uses infrared light to increase blood flow and help relieve pain, stiffness, muscle spasms and circulation irregularities. However, this type of therapy hasn’t become widespread because coverage by insurance companies and Medicare often is problematic.
One More Alternative
An alternative treatment, called combination electrochemical therapy, involves injections of a local anesthetic into the nerves above the ankle over an extended period of time. After the injections, the patient applies an electronic signal treatment that sends electrical pulses into the foot using electrodes while at home. The stimulation activates the release of natural pain-suppressing modulators and causes microcirculation to improve healing. The technique is to turn the nerves down with the Marcaine (anesthetic) and then turn the nerves on with the electrical therapy. Like other foot neuropathy treatments, results and progress vary.
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