As an Interventional Pain Management Specialist at the Orthopaedic & Spine Center, I treat many patients who are suffering with chronic pain caused by peripheral neuropathy. Often, a patient will come to me frustrated by the symptoms and functional limitations caused by peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy isn’t a single disease, but rather has many potential causes. For that reason, it can be difficult to diagnose and more difficult to treat. Early diagnosis and treatment is key – it offers a better chance to control symptoms and prevent further damage. The best outcome is achieved by working together with your Interventional Pain Management specialist to determine where the nerve damage is, what is causing it and how the pain can be relieved.
Our nervous system
To better understand peripheral neuropathy, let’s start with an anatomy lesson about our nervous system. The nervous system is very complex – it has several parts, and is the “command center” for the body. It sends and receives messages using electrical impulses. It has two primary functions. Orders are sent from the brain to body organs and muscles that cause each movement in our bodies. Its other function is to send information about the body’s condition or environment to the brain along sensory nerves. The nervous system clearly carries a heavy load; therefore, when something goes wrong with our nerves, the result can be very debilitating.
The nervous system is divided into the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system is comprised of the spinal cord and brain. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves outside of the spinal cord and brain. Unlike the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system is not protected by the bones of the spine and skull, leaving it exposed to toxins and mechanical injuries. This exposure can allow damage to the peripheral nerves.
What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy results from some type of damage to the nerves. It often causes numbness and pain. People typically describe the pain of peripheral neuropathy as tingling or burning. You may also lose feeling in your hands, feet, arms and legs.
In my next blog, I will discuss the causes and symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy.
Jenny L. Andrus, MD, is a Fellowship-trained, Board-certified, Interventional Pain Management Specialist who practices at Orthopaedic & Spine Center in Newport News, VA. For more information about Dr. Andrus and her practice, go to www.osc-ortho.com . For an appointment, call 757-596-1900.