Have you noticed a tingling sensation in your feet or areas of numbness in your hand? These symptoms could be caused by a condition called peripheral neuropathy. Affecting over 20 million Americans, neuropathy is caused by nerve damage and can come in many different forms.
For example, sometimes neuropathy is caused by nerve damage due to chronic unmanaged blood sugar while other times neuropathy may be related to infection, autoimmune disease, alcoholism, and more.
But while the causes may vary, one symptom neuropathy patients frequently share is numbness. At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, our team, led by John Huffman, MD, specializes in diagnosing and treating different forms of neuropathy.
If you’ve been experiencing numbness, take a moment to learn more about neuropathy to discover if it could be the root cause of your symptoms.
What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a medical condition that affects your nervous system. The nervous system plays a key role, sending information from your brain to different parts of your body. Your peripheral nervous system relays information from your senses to your brain and central nervous system.
When the nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord become damaged, you can develop neuropathy. When you have this condition, your nervous system cannot function normally and you develop problematic symptoms.
The most common symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Pain that can be sharp, throbbing, or burning
- Sensitivity to touch or temperature
- Tingling, numbness, or pins-and-needles in your feet or hands (sometimes traveling up the legs and arms)
- Pain from sensations that shouldn’t cause pain (e.g., a shirt rubbing your skin)
- Problems with coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Paralysis or trouble moving
Some people may experience damage to their autonomic nerves as well. This is less common but can cause unpleasant symptoms such as a change in blood pressure, issues with your heart rate, and urinary or digestive problems.
Because different nerve types can be affected, neuropathy isn’t considered a single disease. Instead, doctors look at neuropathy as a group of many disorders that come from nerve damage.
Why worry about numbness and neuropathy?
The damage to your nerves neuropathy brings can cause patients with the condition to have trouble feeling parts of their bodies. The most common place people experience this numbness is their feet.
When you can’t feel your feet as well as you should, you are less likely to notice injuries, cuts, calluses, and ulcers. As a result, you may not give these issues the care they need, making it more likely for infection to develop.
Untreated infections in your feet can lead to gangrene and in severe cases may even lead to amputation.
Diabetics have the highest risk of developing neuropathy and numbness in their feet. In fact, about 50% of all diabetics develop chronic and debilitating problems with their feet.
Is there a treatment for neuropathy?
At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists, we provide different treatment options for our Northern Virginia neuropathy patients. Instead of beginning treatment with pills and medications, Dr. Huffman takes a holistic approach that works to improve your circulation and alleviate your symptoms.
By treating the underlying causes and factors that contribute to your neuropathy, Dr. Huffman can help reduce your pain, improve your symptoms, and prevent further nerve damage. Your customized treatment protocol may include:
- Anti-inflammatory nutrition and diet planning
- Applicable nutritional supplements
- Low-level light therapy (LLLT)
- Exercises to improve flexibility and strength
- Vibration therapy
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent further damage to your nerves.
If you’re experiencing unexplained numbness or tingling, don’t wait to contact Dr. Huffman at our Northern Virginia office to schedule a visit to learn more about neuropathy. You can also book an in-person or telehealth appointment using our online tool!