The more you know about your neuropathy, the more we can help identify the most appropriate treatment.
It wasn’t that long ago when physicians and patients alike believed that peripheral neuropathy wasn’t treatable by anything but medication.
The sad part is, there are still many physicians and patients that believe this to be the case. In the last few years, we have learned this is no longer exclusively true.
For example, we now know that some tools, including things like dietary supplementation, some forms of physical therapy, and technologies like neurostimulation and cold laser, can have a tremendous positive effect on the outcome of many patients with peripheral neuropathy and, indeed, many forms of chronic pain. This can help patients reduce medication dosages—and sometimes eliminate medication and its side effects.
Peripheral neuropathy is actually a name that can be applied to many painful conditions of the nervous system. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome is a neuropathy. Shingles is another form of neuropathy. We all know about diabetic and chemotherapy-related neuropathy.
Obviously, these are dramatically different conditions, but with similar symptoms in patients.
All this leads to extreme frustration by patients.
And it’s very confusing for patients and their professionals to just call it “neuropathy”. This is because there are substantial differences between genetic neuropathies like CMT, HNPP, and those caused by more common factors—let’s say, things like diabetes and statin medication.
There is also a vast degree of difference in treatability of the very different forms of neuropathy. For example, if your neuropathy was caused by something like poor diet or statin medication, often removing medications and improving diet over time can eliminate most, if not all, neuropathy symptoms. Of course, this is something that requires extreme diligence on the part of the patient and, often, appropriate treatment by clinicians to help restore function.
However, in other cases, like genetic neuropathies, patients may face a possible lifetime of pain, and physical impairments.
Now don’t get me wrong; often we are able to help many patients—even with genetic neuropathy—dramatically improve the quality of their life too.
But the point of today’s article is to point out that the more you know about your condition, the more we can—together—help to identify the most appropriate clinic treatment and home care.
This is why it’s critical wherever possible to obtain an accurate diagnosis. And then apply that name to your form of peripheral neuropathy.
Even if you’re ultimately diagnosed with idiopathic (meaning “unknown causes”) neuropathy, it will allow you and your doctors to identify the most current and powerful treatment strategies.
But, always remember: the most important thing, regardless of the name of your particular type of neuropathy, is your own self-care.
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