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Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to a condition that affects the peripheral nerves, which are responsible for transmitting information between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body.

It can result in various symptoms, depending on the nerves involved, such as pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Here are four frequently asked questions about peripheral neuropathy:

What causes peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy can have multiple causes, including diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), infections (such as Lyme disease or shingles), autoimmune diseases (such as Guillain-Barré syndrome), vitamin deficiencies (such as B12 deficiency), exposure to toxins (such as chemotherapy drugs or certain medications), traumatic injuries, and genetic factors. In some cases, the cause may remain unknown (idiopathic neuropathy).

What are the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can vary widely depending on the type and location of the affected nerves. Common symptoms include numbness or reduced sensation, tingling or burning sensations, sharp or shooting pain, muscle weakness or loss of coordination, sensitivity to touch, and changes in skin, hair, or nail texture. Symptoms may be localised to specific areas or affect multiple parts of the body.

How is peripheral neuropathy diagnosed?

Diagnosing peripheral neuropathy typically involves a comprehensive evaluation of medical history, a physical examination, and various diagnostic tests. These are generally conducted by doctors specialising in the field.

How is peripheral neuropathy treated?

The treatment of peripheral neuropathy focuses on managing symptoms, addressing the underlying cause (if known), and preventing further nerve damage. Treatment options may include medications to relieve pain or reduce symptoms, physical therapy to improve muscle strength and coordination, occupational therapy for functional impairment, and lifestyle modifications (such as managing blood sugar levels in diabetes). It is important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a podiatrist, for proper diagnosis and individualised treatment recommendations.

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