Dr Jenny L. Andrus, MD shares her thoughts on treating Peripheral Neuropathy
In my last blog entry, I examined the different ways that Peripheral Nueropathy (PN) can be diagnosed. In this entry, I will list the different treatment options available for PN and the benefits of each.
How is peripheral neuropathy treated?
The goal of treatment for peripheral neuropathy is to treat the condition or disease that is causing the neuropathy. Once the underlying cause is improved, the neuropathy may improve. Many types of neuropathy cannot be cured and in those cases the main goal is to reduce pain and improve function. In general, adopting healthy habits can reduce the physical and emotional effects of peripheral neuropathy. I recommend that you maintain optimal body weight, avoid exposure to toxins, follow a physician-supervised exercise program, eat a balanced diet, correct vitamin deficiencies, limit or avoid alcohol consumption, and control diabetes (if applicable).
Neuropathic pain is often difficult to control. Mild pain may sometimes be alleviated by analgesics or pain relievers sold over the counter. Several types of medications have recently proven helpful to many patients suffering from severe chronic peripheral neuropathy pain. These include several anti-epileptic drugs such as gabapentin and some classes of antidepressants. There are medications in both the antidepressant and anti-epileptic classes which have an FDA indication for painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Drugs containing opiates have many potential side effects and risks. They may be helpful in some cases but are not used as first line treatment for neuropathy pain.
In addition to medication, we can also utilize physical therapy as well as physical modalities such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to help to relieve symptoms. For some patients with refractory pain spinal cord stimulation may be effective for pain control. In spinal cord stimulation the spinal cord is stimulated to produce a pleasant sensation to override the pain sensation.
As with any other health concern, it is important to consult with a qualified physician who can treat the condition properly. If you are experiencing symptoms that you think might be neuropathy, please make an appointment with an Interventional Pain Management Specialist at the Orthopaedic & Spine Center. We will work with you to determine the best treatment to help you feel better again.