Neuropathy is a collection of disorders that occurs when nerves of the peripheral nervous system are damaged. The condition is generally referred to as peripheral neuropathy, and it can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic disorders, and exposure to toxins. However, the most common causes of neuropathy are found in patients with diabetes where the arms, legs, and feet (peripheral body parts) are most affected.
Causes of Neuropathy
Many cases of neuropathy are of unknown causes, however for the majority of patients with nerve pain there are known causes. Some of these causes include but are not limited to; Alcohol abuse, chemotherapy, physical trauma or injury, Tumors, Autoimmune Diseases, Toxin exposure, and of course Diabetes.
Classifications of Neuropathy
- Mononeuropathy – This involves a single nerve. An example would be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, ulnar nerve palsy, radial nerve palsy, or peroneal nerve palsy.
- Multiple Mononeuropathy – This involves two or more nerves individually affected.
- Polyneuropathy – This is involvement of peripheral nerves. An example would be diabetic neuropathy or Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Neuropathy treatment can use many different techniques even including supplemental and alternative approaches. The patient and medical provider must evaluate the symptoms and underlying causes of the pain in order to properly discuss a viable neuropathy treatment. Pain thresholds vary widely for all patients, especially when considering the different underlying causes of the pain. Some patients may find the use of over the counter medications such as Ibuprofen to be helpful, others need the use of numbing cream patches or topical ointments, yet others find the pain so unbearable that the use of prescription drugs must be taken in order to deal with the pain. Some of the most common neuropathy treatments are as follows:
- Prescription Neuropathy Treatments
- Antiseizure Medications (Such as Gabapentin, Carbamazepine, example would be other medications) can help with the burning sensations patients associate with nerve pain.
- Antidepressant Medications (TCA’s or Tricyclic Antidepressants, example would be certain medications)
- Topical Ointments (both over the counter and prescription). One ointment for nerve pain treatments is the use of capsaicin cream or ointment
- Alternative Neuropathy Treatments
- Therapies (which include physical, massage, or occupational)
- Nerve Stimulation
- Supplementary Neuropathy Treatments
- Vitamin B Supplements
- Alpha lipoic acid
A patient dealing with nerve pain can utilize the information given in order to more knowledgably discuss neuropathy treatments with their health care provider, but should never try and self-diagnose or self-treat when nerve pain is present.
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