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Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where people experience neuropathic pain, often in their feet and sometimes in their hands. The symptoms differ for everyone - burning, stinging, numb, cold, hot, electric, or achy. The pain can often worsen at night and be triggered by touching. Even air blowing past the skin or water from a shower can trigger discomfort. It is thought to be caused by damage to tiny nerves. These nerves are essentially electrical wires which are misfiring—sending signals of hot when it is warm or stinging like a spider bite when they should be sending the sensation of light touch.

Peripheral neuropathy can affect feet

What you are experiencing is 100% real. The electrical signals you are getting through your nerves are the same as someone else would experience if they were burnt or bitten by a spider. The damage to these tiny nerve fibres canbe caused by many possible things - diabetes, chemotherapy, alcohol, or blood vessel problems. It can also be genetic and run in families, or at times we cannot find a cause - which we call idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. The problem is the same, though - damage to small nerves. It often occurs in the feet, and sometimes in the hands, as these are the nerves furthest away from support of the kidneys, liver and heart and therefore are thought to bemore susceptible to damage.

In most cases, the damage that has already occurred cannot be reversed. Sometimes,we can help reduce further damage by managing diabetes or drinking less alcohol. The management of peripheral neuropathy is a combination of foot cares, such as podiatry and medications, to try and dampen these 'short-circuiting' signals. We can also perform minor minimally invasive procedures at times, called pulsed radiofrequency ablation, to try and dull the pain.

If none are helpful, some patients get significant pain relief with neurostimulation - small electrodes placed behind the spinal cord to reduce the pain signals. As this is more invasive, we always suggest trying the most straight forward options first but know there are often more things we can try with you.

Your Resolve Pain team will discuss options appropriate for you and educate you further about peripheralneuropathy. It is important to remember that peripheral neuropathy is a condition we need to manage – but we may not cure it. We treat many people with these conditions and have helped many people reduce their pain and improve their quality of life despite their pain. In the same way diabetes or asthma can reduce the symptoms and impact your life, our goal when managing peripheral neuropathy is to limit its impact on your life.

We have included some links below for you to read more and help you decide what therapies may be most appropriate. Don't hesitate to contact the clinic or ask your pain management team for further questions

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