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St. Augustine Foot and Ankle
Neuropathy is an umbrella term that denotes a disorder of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system consists of all the motor and sensory nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.
How Is Neuropathy Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects you may have a form of neuropathy, he or she will begin by taking a history of your symptoms and examining you for signs of muscle weakness, numbness, and impaired reflexes. You may need blood and urine tests to check for diabetes, vitamin or metabolic deficiencies and the presence of any underlying disease or genetic defect that may be affecting you. You’ll also need to take a serious look at your alcohol intake and what medications you are taking.
You may also be given an electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests, which is used to assess nerve and muscle function and measure the electrical properties of the nerves. Using these tests, doctors can often pinpoint the abnormal nerves and determine which part of their structure is damaged.
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Nerve and muscle biopsies may also be performed and may provide valuable information about the type and cause of the neuropathy. A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, is sometimes recommended to help identify infection or inflammation that might be associated with the neuropathy.
What Are the Treatments for Neuropathy?
Effective treatment of peripheral neuropathy relies heavily on the cause of the nerve damage. For example, a peripheral neuropathy caused by a vitamin deficiency can be treated — even reversed — with vitamin therapy and an improved diet. Likewise, nerve damage brought on by alcohol abuse can often be stopped and improved by avoiding alcohol. Peripheral neuropathy caused by toxic substances or medications can often be corrected in much the same way. When neuropathy is related to diabetes, careful monitoring of blood sugar levels may slow its progression and curb symptoms. Physical therapy will help strengthen weak muscles and improve quality of life in almost all cases. Early diagnosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathy is important, because the peripheral nerves have a limited capacity to regenerate, and treatment may only stop the progression — not reverse damage.
How Can Peripheral Neuropathy Be Prevented?
Some forms of peripheral neuropathy can be averted by maintaining sound health habits. Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and abstaining from excessive alcohol consumption can all help prevent nerve damage. Avoiding injuries and toxic chemicals and carefully managing underlying disorders, such as diabetes, can also help prevent peripheral neuropathy.
With the experience of Dr. Thomas LeBeau at St. Augustine Foot and Ankle we will do everything we can to help with your neuropathy diagnosis and get you back to your regular activity. If you are experiencing burning and tingling in the foot please come see us as soon as possible. If you suspect you have neuropathy of the lower leg or are feeling pain in your foot or lower leg of any kind please give us a call to set an appointment at (904) 824-0869 or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org