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What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

The peripheral nervous system sends messages from the brain to the spinal cord to the body. Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to the peripheral nervous system, affecting the sensory, motor, and autonomic nerves.

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

Symptoms depend on the portion of the central nervous system affected, and can include:

  • Intense sharp pain
  • Burning or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscular weakness
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Digestive problems
  • Loss of coordination

Seek medical attention immediately upon the onset of these symptoms. It’s important that peripheral neuropathy be diagnosed quickly and the root cause identified in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan to alleviate the symptoms and prevent further nerve damage. An integrated approach including care from a medical doctor, chiropractor, and a massage therapist may be the most successful treatment plan.

Underlying Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Alcoholism
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Toxic exposure to chemicals or metals
  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Infections
  • Nerve trauma
  • Tumors
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Bone marrow disorders
  • Other diseases

Peripheral Neuropathy Testing

Peripheral neuropathy isn’t a single disease, but rather damage to nerves that produces symptoms with many potential causes. Your doctor will need to determine where the nerve damage is and what’s causing it. Diagnosis usually requires:

  • Full medical history including lifestyle, exposure to toxins, drinking habits and family history.
  • Neurological exam (tendon reflexes, muscle strength, posture, coordination, ability to feel certain sensations).
  • Testing (may include x-rays, CT scans, MRI, electromyography/nerve function testing and automatic reflex screening).
  • Nerve and skin biopsy testing.

Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy

Treatment goals are to manage the condition causing your neuropathy and to relieve symptoms. Topical prescription creams infused with anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, and narcotic medication aimed to target specific areas of the body to eliminate pain without impact on the non-affected areas of the body may be prescribed. Therapies including plasma exchange and intravenous globulin, chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, exercise, and vitamin supplementation/improved nutrition may be implemented, with instruction to limit alcohol and quit smoking.

The best results are realized when a team including a doctor, neurologist, massage therapist and a chiropractor work together with the patient to relieve symptoms. Concord Spine & Pain Center is a rare and truly integrated facility owned and operated by Dr. Trent Ryan. Our staff receives continuing education throughout the year allowing us to offer state-of-the-art care to our patients. Concord Medical Spine & Pain Center is located at 6 Sharpley Road, Wilmington, DE 19803 and we can be reached at 302-476-2984.

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