Peripheral neuropathy is a common neurological condition that affects about 2-7% of the population in the United States. People with peripheral neuropathy generally suffer from high functional impairments, such as trouble housekeeping, bathing, and other everyday chores. The mortality rates for people with this disorder are relatively high, even after attempts to control associated comorbidities.
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A prompt and adequate diagnosis of this disorder may prevent the disease’s rapid progression and complications through safety and pharmacologic interventions. That is where teleneurology comes into action. Teleneurology is highly effective in peripheral neuropathy treatment, and this article delves into its effectiveness in mediating peripheral neuropathy disability.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a complicated neurological disorder due to damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves). This disorder causes numbness, pain, and weakness in the hands and feet. It may also affect other body areas and functions, such as circulation, digestion, and urination. The peripheral nervous system is responsible for sending information in the form of nerve signals to the brain and spine (the central nervous system of the human body) and to the rest of the body. The peripheral nerves also transmit sensory information to the central nervous system, and problems in these nerves and their data transmission ability affect bodily functions.
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The most common causes of this neurological disorder are metabolic problems, infections, traumatic injuries, exposure to toxins, and inherited causes. One of the most typical causes is diabetes. Individuals with peripheral neuropathy typically describe the pain as burning, stabbing, or tingling. Symptoms improve in most cases, but only if they result from a treatable condition. Medications and continuous health monitoring may reduce the pain of peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
All nerves in the peripheral system have a particular function, and so symptoms depend upon the nerve type affected. To know more about the symptoms, it is crucial first to understand the classification of nerves:
- Sensory Nerves: receive sensations, such as pain, temperature, touch, or vibration, from the skin
- Motor Nerves: regulate muscle movements
- Autonomic Nerves: regulate control functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, bladder function, and digestion.
Therefore, depending upon the kind of affected nerve, the signs and symptoms may include the following:
- Throbbing, sharp, jabbing, or burning pain.
- Gradual onset and progression of tingling or prickling in hands or feet and numbness, which may spread upwards towards the legs and arms
- Paralysis (if motor nerves are affected).
- Extreme touch sensitivity.
- A tingling feeling as if you are wearing socks or gloves when you are not.
- Pain during exercise or activities that shouldn’t cause pain, such as in feet when they are under a blanket or when you put weight on them.
- Muscle weakness.
- Falling and lack of coordination.
If autonomic nerves are affected by peripheral neuropathy, the signs and symptoms may include the following:
- Decrease in blood pressure, which may cause lightheadedness or dizziness
- Heat intolerance
- Bladder, bowel, or digestive problems
- Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy
An effective diagnosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathy depend significantly upon the cause of nerve damage. If left untreated, the cause can worsen, resulting in aggravated symptoms. Therefore, teleneurology helps the cause by offering continuous and accurate information for prognosis and treatment.
Different nerve issues are treated differently. For instance:
- A peripheral neuropathy disability caused by vitamin deficiency can effectively be reversed or treated through vitamin therapy and a healthy diet.
- Neuropathy caused by nerve damage due to alcohol abuse is generally treatable by steering clear of alcohol.
- Peripheral neuropathy disability caused by exposure to toxic medications or substances can be effectively reversed by administering reversal medications.
- If neuropathy is caused by diabetes, continuous monitoring of the blood sugar levels may manage the symptoms or retard disease progression.
Teleneurology and Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment
An early peripheral neuropathy prognosis and treatment are highly important in dealing with this disease. That is because the peripheral nerves have a restricted regeneration capacity; thus, treatment can only impede progression, not reverse the damages. Severely impaired individuals may require physical therapy to prevent muscle spasms, cramping, and retain muscle strength. However, the typical medications that can hamper disease progression include pregabalin (Lyrica), gabapentin (Neurontin), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and other antiepileptic medications.
People with considerable nerve damage due to nerve compression or injury may also require surgical treatment. Additionally, mobility aids, including a walker, cane, or wheelchair, to facilitate movement and painkillers to curb symptoms are also standard treatment options.
Unfortunately, all these treatment options are not readily available to all patients due to transportation, geographic, and other barriers, such as a lack of neurologists in rural areas. Therefore, in-clinic neurological visits may not always be feasible for all patients. Since leaving peripheral neuropathy symptoms unattended can result in disease progression, immediate medical attention is highly crucial.
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Teleneurology facilitates healthcare in this regard by offering practitioners the practice of evidence-based peripheral neuropathy care. This includes remote audio-visual communication options between patients and neurologists, audit and feedback systems, institutional protocols, educational outreach, and other similar strategies. This allows a seamless and round-the-clock communication platform for patients and also facilitates the translation of guidelines into realistic clinical policies to tailor treatments for individual patients.
We have you covered if you are looking for doctors specializing in peripheral neuropathy treatment. American board-certified and specialist trained neurologists at NeuroX offer advanced teleneurology services for various neurological disorders, including peripheral neuropathy. Head over to NeuroX to book an online appointment within seconds!