If your patients are presenting with tingling, numbness, burning sensations, or motor function issues, they may be suffering from peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy can be tricky to diagnose, but becoming as informed as possible about its symptoms, treatments, and which of your patients are the most susceptible will equip you to effectively recognize this painful and often dangerous condition.
The main symptoms of peripheral neuropathy with which you and your patients should be familiar are:
- Shooting pain or burning sensations
- Weakness or loss of dexterity in the arms and legs
- Tingling and numbness, especially in the extremities
- Loss of fine motor control (dropping things frequently becomes an issue)
- False sensory signals (reduced ability to sense temperature, sensations of being touched or wearing gloves, hats, or stockings when they are not
Other symptoms can also occur, of course, resultant from the above: sleep deprivation, restlessness, inability to sit still, irritability and nervousness, and so on.
So many groups are at-risk for neuropathy, it is practically guaranteed that learning to identify, diagnose, and even treat the condition will be a valuable asset to your practice and to the lives of your patients. Spotting neuropathy early in a patient can mean the difference between debilitation and a comparatively normal life!
Some of the most common causes of neuropathy include (this is a partial list!):
- Chemotherapy (increasingly over the past few decades, as cancer treatments become more and more effective)
- Kidney disorders
- Nerve damage from injury or surgery
- Genetic diseases such as Ataxia, or even hereditary neuropathy
Discussing Neuropathy with your patients can be challenging. Start by making certain your patient understands whatever underlying cause is behind the neuropathy (diabetes, for example, is the most common). Explain the symptoms of neuropathy, and encourage the patient to identify any they may be suffering, even intermittently. Don’t forget to reassure them that, while there is no miracle cure for neuropathy, it is both common and very treatable in terms of pain. Also, be certain to emphasize the importance of monitoring their condition for signs of further degeneration or additional symptoms (as these could be signs of dangerous progression).
Medical Treatment options for neuropathy vary widely, and are rapidly changing with technology and as we learn more about the condition. Some studies recommend non-steroid painkillers such as Motrin or Aleve for mild cases of pain, whereas cases involving more pain usually require prescription pain reducers containing morphine or similar. Surgical treatments also utilize implants. Of Course external therapeutic devices should always be applied by the most qualified neuropathy treatment specialists.
Where your patient’s neuropathy is resultant from chronic or persistent illness, management of that underlying illness is, of course the priority. Proper control of diabetes, appropriate physical therapy after an injury or surgery, or treatment of other relevant conditions will, in almost all cases, help to minimize neuropathic injuries.
Patients suffering from neuropathy are already familiar with its discomfort, and inconvenience to their lives. It is important for you both to realize that many types of neuropathy can also be very dangerous, even life-threatening. It is not uncommon for neuropathy to be degenerative and, if left unmonitored or untreated, it can cause intestinal blockages or complications in the function of bodily organs. Needless to say, take no chances!
While there’s no cure for neuropathy, there is plenty you can do to help your patients enjoy healthier, full lives while living with the condition. Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is the best route; we put at your disposal all the resources you will need to effectively treat and advise your neuropathy patients.
For more tips on your patients or growing your specific practice, contact us at http://neuropathydrprofessionals.com