Your body houses two nervous systems. The central nervous system is composed of your brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system connects the nerves from those two areas to the rest of your body. The peripheral nerves also send information about physical sensations, such as temperature, texture, or pain, from your body back to your brain.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where the peripheral nerves are damaged or destroyed, interfering with normal function. For example, you may not be able to feel your feet when you walk, leading to falls, or the nerves may fail to send necessary pain signals — or even send pain signals when there’s no cause for pain — leading to injury.
Board-certified podiatrist Dr. Elliot Perel and our team at Monroe Foot & Ankle Care understand how uncomfortable and debilitating neuropathy can be, and how it can increase your risk of foot and ankle injuries. That’s why we provide comprehensive treatment options for our patients in the Monroe Township, New Jersey, area who have peripheral neuropathy.
Here’s how you can tell if you’re developing neuropathy, so you’ll know when to seek out medical help.
8 telltale symptoms of neuropathy
Symptoms vary from one person to another, or even within the same person from day to day, but they include one or more of the following:
- Numbness or “muffled” skin sensation
- Inability to detect temperature
- Sharp, jabbing pain
- Burning, shooting pain
- Sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of balance or coordination
You may feel the sensations in the area of the damaged nerve, or they can radiate along the nerve’s path to other parts of the body.
Common causes of neuropathy
The most common cause of neuropathy is physical trauma to the nerves. Trauma includes everything from trips and falls to car accidents to repetitive motion injuries.
Another common cause is diabetes. The high blood sugar levels characteristic of the disease lead to nerve damage and symptoms that include numbness, pain, and a loss of sensation. The University of Chicago’s Center for Peripheral Neuropathy (UCCPN) indicates almost 60% of diabetics have some form of nerve damage.
A number of other chronic diseases and environmental toxins may lead to peripheral nerve damage, including kidney disorders, hypothyroidism, chronic inflammation from autoimmune diseases, vitamin deficiencies, some bacterial or viral infections, and heavy metal exposure.
Common treatments for neuropathy
Monroe Foot & Ankle Care offers a number of treatment options for neuropathy.
Over-the-counter pain medications are useful only for mild cases of neuropathy. Some prescription antiepileptic medications can also relieve nerve pain, and some of the tricyclic antidepressants interfere with chemical processes in your central nervous system that allow you to feel pain, dampening the signal.
In addition, for diabetics, two antidepressants prove useful against neuropathic pain: the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) duloxetine and the extended-release venlafaxine. All these medications come with side effects, so Dr. Perel will discuss the benefit-risk ratio with you before prescribing anything.
MLS laser therapy
The Multiwave Locked System (MLS) Therapy Laser is an FDA-approved device that uses multiple energy wavelengths to produce an efficient and simultaneous effect on the pain, inflammation, and edema (swelling) of neuropathy. The MLS system has an efficacy rate of 85-90%.
We also offer two regenerative medicine options. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses your own platelets — one of the blood’s components — taken from a routine blood draw. They’re processed, then injected into the site of the damaged nerves to help promote new cell growth.
Stem cell therapy uses your body’s supply of undifferentiated cells (stem cells), or cells taken from amniotic tissue and helps turn them into the cells required to repair and regenerate damaged tissues, including the peripheral nerves.
If you’re experiencing any of the telltale symptoms of neuropathy, it’s time to come into Monroe Foot & Ankle Care for an evaluation with Dr. Perel and effective treatment. To get started, give the office a call at 732-521-6166, or book online with us today.