A Guide to Peripheral Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Over 20 million people in the United States have peripheral neuropathy. The tingliness felt in the extremities are often overlooked. Tingling feet is associated with poor circulation or standing up too long. 

These symptoms could point to more serious conditions, such as cancer or a neurological disorder. Neuropathy is manageable and treatable if properly diagnosed. This guide will help you understand this condition intimately.

Sensory Misfires

When you have peripheral neuropathy, your body’s nerves in the extremities begin to misfire. This comes in the form of hot or cold pulses that are associated with pain. When the tingling is mild, it produces a weird sensation. When the neuropathy is more acute, it can result in painful, radiating, burning ‘hot spots’ that won’t go away.

Tingling Feet and Other Symptoms

Peripheral neuropathy starts out benign, but the combination of ‘mild’ symptoms can be scary. You’ll notice more cramping, stiffness, slower reflexes, and inherent weakness. This can affect your balance and ability to exercise. 

During very hot or cold days, your extremities will feel especially sensitive. Neuropathy can also interfere with sexual arousal and sensations.

Conditions with Neuropathy Side-Effects

As we mentioned, cancer patients develop peripheral neuropathy at high rates. Chemo and radiation therapy can damage the nerves, setting off these misfires. Other factors may increase these rates of developing neuropathy.

Genetics and age play a key role in your chances of developing it without any preexisting conditions. Poor diet and abuse of alcohol are two common and preventable ways of developing neuropathy. 

Treatments for Neuropathy

It is not a condition that you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. Peripheral neuropathy is reversible. The nerves are like other cells in that they have the ability to repair and heal over time.

The treatment will depend on how the neuropathy developed in the first place. Those undergoing chemo and radiation therapy have it the hardest. Even after these treatments are finished, it can take years to heal the damaged nerves.

Otherwise, treating underlying conditions is the focus of treating peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes and hypothyroidism, for example, will aggravate any attempts to heal nerve damage through proper diet and exercise. These major imbalances intensify nerve pain.

Recovery and Prevention

In addition to treating underlying conditions, medical research has discovered drugs that can assist with recovery. Medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin, developed to treat epilepsy, may relieve nerve pain. There are also medications that can prevent neuropathy caused by chemo medications.

For those who don’t have any major underlying conditions and have developed tingling feet over the years, your path is less clear. That’s because you’ll need to focus on lifestyle changes to heal and prevent neuropathy. This includes getting a more nutritious diet and physical therapy.

Don’t rely too heavily on pain medications if you suffer from peripheral neuropathy. Contact Dr. Scott Stiffey if you have struggled with this condition and want to explore treatment options. We can help restore normalcy to your life without a heavy reliance on drugs.

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