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Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, also called distal symmetric neuropathy or sensorimotor neuropathy, is nerve damage in the arms and legs. Your feet and legs are likely to be affected before your hands and arms.
Peripheral neuropathy is dangerous. Individuals with it can injure their foot and not know it. This leads to foot infections, a dreaded complication of diabetics as it often leads to amputation.

* numbness or insensitivity to pain or temperature.
* a tingling, burning, or prickling sensation.
* sharp pains or cramps.
* extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch.
* loss of balance and coordination.

– Vitamin deficiencies can be corrected.
– Diabetes can be controlled, although control may not reverse the neuropathy.
– Neuropathies that are associated with immune diseases can improve with treatment of the autoimmune disease.
– Neuropathy caused by nerve entrapment can be treated by physical therapy, injections or surgery.
– Prompt treatment with sympathetic injections can minimize the chance of shingles progressing to post herpetic neuralgia.

Another problem with a peripheral neuropathy is pain, which can be severe. It is usually worse in the evening or night, and can be particularly bothersome because it interferes with sleep. Never try narcotics for this pain; many options for pain relief are available, but all are medications that must be prescribed by your doctor. They work by altering the chemistry within the nerve, particularly that which causes pain. These drugs include some of the older anti-depressants (in small doses), anti-seizure medications, and drugs that are sometimes used for rhythm disturbances of the heart. Creams containing capsaicin also help certain individuals. Any of these treatments take weeks to have an initial effect.
Weakness and unsteadiness of the arms or legs can be a problem. When severe, the muscles of the hands waste away and the ability to use the fingers is impaired.

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