Neuropathy means damage to a nerve or a disease affecting multiple nerves. This may present as altered sensation, numbness, weakness, or pain in the arms or legs. Neuropathy can affect a single nerve, multiple nerves, or have a more widespread effect on nerves (peripheral neuropathy.)
Diseases causing peripheral neuropathy include: most commonly diabetes, alcoholism, auto-immune disorders, medications, inherited diseases, and hypothyroidism. Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy. 34.2 million Americans suffer with Diabetes. Physical examination, blood tests and nerve conduction studies can be helpful to diagnose peripheral neuropathy.
Treatment focuses on finding the underlying cause and treating the disease. Medications can be used to help treat the symptoms of neuropathy. Medications like Neurontin, pre-gabalin, nortriptyline or amitriptyline can help alleviate the symptoms, but have many side effects such as grogginess, dizziness, and can increase the risk of falls.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology shows how a medical device used for chronic pain can alleviate the symptoms of neuropathy. Patients on average decreased their pain scores by 50%. They even remarkably saw improvement in their numbness, tingling, and cold sensation in their feet. In the study, patients had the device inserted for a trial for about a week. Many saw improvement in their symptoms and elected to have the device implanted. 85% of patients were satisfied with their relief.