Neuropathy: Definition, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment by Dulles Neurology Specialists
Neuropathy affects more than 20 million Americans, but studies suggest that the actual number is higher than that. Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to recognize the symptoms of neuropathy and neglect to consult a Dulles neurology specialist about proper treatment and management.
In the beginning, symptoms of neuropathy can include gradual tingling and prickling in the hands or feet, combined with the gradual onset of numbness. You might also feel burning, sharp, throbbing, or freezing pain. Since early-stage neuropathy mimics the common feeling of arms and legs “falling asleep,” many people do not pay much attention.
As you will learn in this article, however, neuropathy is not a simple matter. In some cases, neuropathy can lead to serious or life-threatening complications. A neurologist in Leesburg, VA will be able to diagnose neuropathy and recommend treatment, but for that to happen, you need to learn how to spot red flags.
What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy or nerve damage commonly affects the peripheral nervous system, causing pain, numbness, and weakness to the hands and feet.
It can be classified according to the location of the affected nerves or based on the disease or injury that’s causing it. There are four major classifications:
- Peripheral neuropathy: involves damage to the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord
- Cranial neuropathy: occurs when there’s damage to any of the 12 cranial nerves that directly exit the brain
- Autonomic neuropathy: refers to damage to the nerves that control circulation, digestion, blander, function, heart, and other parts of the involuntary nervous system
- Focal neuropathy: restricted to one area of the body, a nerve, or a group of nerves
Due to its complex range of symptoms, neuropathy is often misdiagnosed. It requires a highly-trained neurologist in Leesburg to identify the type and cause of neuropathy correctly.
Causes of Neuropathy
Neuropathy can be caused by many factors such as injuries, infections, diseases, vitamin deficiency, or one or more of these conditions:
- Genetic or inherited neuropathy
- Toxins and poisons
- Trauma or injury
- Drugs or medication
- Uremia/kidney failure
- Post-herpetic neuralgia
- Alcoholic neuropathy
- Idiopathic neuropathy, or neuropathy which doesn’t have an established cause
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Regardless of the cause, there are common symptoms characteristic of neuropathy. It can manifest through:
- Gradual onset of numbness
- Tingling or prickling in extremities, spreading upward
- Freezing, jabbing, sharp, burning, or throbbing pain
- Extreme sensitivity when touched
- Falling and lack of coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in blood pressure
- Digestive, bladder, or bowel problems
- Altered sweating
- Heat intolerance
When should you seek treatment?
From the first instance you observe troubling or unusual symptoms of neuropathy, it is imperative that you seek expert diagnosis immediately. Contact Neurology Associates as soon as you can so that our specialist, Dr. Sarbjot Dulai, can run tests, exams, and a comprehensive neurological examination to arrive at a diagnosis.
Neuropathy may be a serious condition, but you don’t have to suffer from it. Once you’re diagnosed with neuropathy, Dr. Dulai can prescribe medications and other forms of treatment to bring you relief.
The key is to catch it early to prevent more damage. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is suffering from neuropathy, don’t hesitate to consult Neurology Associates as soon as you can.