What is Neuropathy?

When the nerves connecting the spinal cord to the rest of your body become damaged or disrupted from carrying signals, it can result in a group of symptoms called peripheral neuropathy (or just neuropathy). It’s not an uncommon condition, with an estimated 2-3% of the population affected.

The nervous system brings information to and from your brain. When the nerves are affected by an injury, infection, autoimmune condition or something that blocks or puts pressure on them, they can’t properly conduct sensory information.

Some symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Numbness, especially in the hands or feet
  • Tingling or prickling sensation
  • Sharp or jabbing pain, as if from a knife
  • Burning feeling, similar to sunburn without the heat
  • Freezing sensation
  • Ultra-sensitive to touch
  • Lack of balance or coordination

Diabetes is a major cause of neuropathy, especially in the feet. Increasing circulation through exercise can help relieve or prevent symptoms. Decreased or lack of feeling in the feet and toes can lead to life-threatening infections or amputation. For those diagnosed with diabetes, the importance of monitoring foot health cannot be overstated enough.

When peripheral neuropathy causes muscle weakness or instability, physical therapy can help strengthen these muscles or the surrounding area, to ease pain and increase mobility. Your doctor can monitor your progress and make recommendations for alterations in a physical therapy plan that best addresses your needs.

Making lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, may address the underlying cause of neuropathy to relieve or eliminate symptoms. The nervous system in your body is both intricate and complex, and may be affected by multiple influences, both environmental and genetic. Developing a treatment plan with your doctor is the first step to recovery.

The orthopedic physicians at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the nerves, including neuropathy. They work together with our physical therapists to ensure each patient has the best possible treatment outcome.  If you have nerve pain or other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, contact one of our convenient locations in the Tucson, Arizona area for an appointment today, or request an appointment online.

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