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What is Neuropathy?

De-Mystifying a common condition

A woman doing her yoga session with Kinship arm sleeve

Causes can range from Diabetes, Cancer, Exposure to toxins in food, Auto-immune
diseases, Alcoholism and Excess Nutrient consumption

With 25-30% of Americans affected by Neuropathy, many of us are familiar with its’ symptoms. Numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and pain in hands or feet are often the biggest symptoms, although it can affect other parts of the body as well. But what causes Neuropathy and what can we do to treat it?

Neuropathy is known to be damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves.
Symptoms and treatment can depend on which nerves are affected:

  • Sensory nerves transmit signals from your from your five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) through your spinal cord to your brain. For instance, they can send information to your brain about objects you hold in your hand, like pain, temperature, and texture.
  • Motor nerves carry messages from your brain to your muscles. They travel in the opposite direction of sensory nerves. They will tell your muscles when to react to something, for instance, moving your hand when it feels something hot.
  • Autonomic nerves monitor and respond to the external stresses that your body needs. Body functions that occur outside of your direct control, such as breathing, digestion, heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, bladder control and sexual arousal are all part of the Autonomic Nerves. As an
    example, when your body gets hot through exercise, they trigger sweating to prevent your body’s temperature from rising too high.

But what are the causes of Neuropathy? Causes range from Diabetes, Cancer, exposure to food toxins,auto-immune disease, alcoholism and excess nutrient consumption.

What are the common signs and symptoms of Neuropathy?

A senior male player of pickleball in action.

Some cases of Neuropathy can be easily treated, and often cured

  • Tingling or numbness, especially in the hands and feet, arms or legs.
  • Throbbing, sharp, burning or stabbing pain.
  • Changes in sensation, inability to feel pain, pressure, temperature or touch. Extreme sensitivity to touch can also be a symptom. Severe pain especially at night.
  • Loss of coordination or falling
  • Not being able to feel things in your hands and feet – feeling like you’re wearing socks or gloves when you’ve got nothing on.
  • Not being able to feel things in your hands and feet – feeling like you’re wearing socks or gloves when you’ve got nothing on.
  • Muscle weakness, twitching, cramps and/or spasms.
  • Loss of muscle control, loss of muscle tone or dropping things out of your hand.
  • Paralysis: Inability to move a part of the body.
  • Dizziness when standing up, fainting or lightheadedness caused by low blood pressure or abnormal heart rate
  • Sweating too much or not enough correlating to the degree of exertion or temperature.
  • Problems with digestion (including bloating, nausea/vomiting), bladder (urination) and bowels (including diarrhea, constipation).
  • Sexual function problems.
  • Unintentional Weight loss.

How is neuropathy treated?

Identifying an underlying condition, such as Diabetes or an infection is the first step to treating Neuropathy.
Some cases of Neuropathy can be easily treated, and often cured, depending on the extent of the nerve damage. If Neuropathy is un-curable, there are many ways to manage it in order to live a healthy life without as many symptoms.

  • Prescription medicines can be used to control pain by chemicals that help by adjusting pain signaling pathways within the central and peripheral nervous system. There is limited evidence that Narcotic medicine helps with this type of pain.

A man in an orange shirt walking in a field.

Healthy living habits include exercising to improve muscle strength, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol intake. Graduated Compression Sleeves can also be helpful.

  • Physical therapy uses massage, focused exercise, and other treatments to help you increase your range of motion, strength and balance.
  • Occupational therapy can teach you skills to help you cope with the pain and loss of function.
  • Surgery can be an option for patients with compression-related neuropathy caused by tumors, infections, herniated discs in back or neck, or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Mechanical aids, provide support, keeping the affected nerves in proper alignment. Braces and specially designed shoes, casts and splints can help reduce pain. Compression Socks and Sleeves also fit into this category.
  • Healthy living habits, such as exercising to improve muscle strength, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting.alcohol intake. Proper nutrition, in eating a healthier diet and making sure to get the right balance of vitamins and other nutrients.

Compression Sleeves are designed specifically for a specific body part that may be affected by Neuropathy. The graduated compression gently applies even pressure to the foot, ankle, and legs to encourage better blood circulation, reduce pain and prevent blood clots from forming. The continuous and gentle pressure that’s applied helps to prevent blood from pooling in the feet and legs, as it helps to direct the blood back up to the heart. Compression sleeves also reduce excess fluid from the capillaries, which helps to reduce swelling and absorb tissue fluid.

See all protective skin sleeves here.

If you’d like more information on Neuropathy, please check out the following articles:

Cleveland Clinic: Neuropathy (Peripheral Neuropathy)

Everyday Health: What Is Neuropathy? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Rebuilder Medical:  The Best Socks for Neuropathy

Western Neuropathy Association:  Neuropathy The most common disease you have never heard of

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