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3 Ways to Manage Peripheral Neuropathy Pain

Dec 05, 2022
Peripheral neuropathy pain may slowly build over months to years or occur all at once. Either way, a pain management specialist can help relieve the tingling, burning, or sharp shooting pain you’re experiencing. Find out how.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) estimates that 20 million people in the United States have peripheral neuropathy. However, the agency states that the number could total 30 million or more because peripheral neuropathy is complex and frequently misdiagnosed.

The pain management physicians at Advanced Spine and Pain Clinics in Minneapolis specialize in helping patients get relief from spine pain. They have significant expertise in diagnosing and treating complex chronic conditions, including peripheral neuropathy.

In this blog, our providers explain some of the ways they can help patients manage pain related to peripheral nerve damage.  

Understanding peripheral neuropathy

The peripheral nerves are responsible for sensation, movement, and autonomic functions, such as respiration and heartbeat. For example, sensory nerves alert the brain if your fingers get too close to a candle flame. Motor nerves then trigger you to reflexively jerk your hand away from the heat. Ordinarily, this happens instantly without conscious thought.

Peripheral nerve damage (neuropathy) interferes with this process. For instance, depending on which nerves are affected, you may not feel the heat from the candle flame. This could cause you to get burned.

Conversely, peripheral neuropathy can cause exaggerated pain responses with the lightest touch or no external stimulus. Actions, such as putting weight on your feet first thing in the morning or covering your legs with a soft blanket at night, could cause significant pain.

Furthermore, you could experience burning, throbbing, sharp, stabbing, or electric shock sensations in the areas with the damaged nerves for no discernable reason. Initially, these sensations might occur randomly and become more persistent as the condition progresses.

When treating peripheral neuropathy, our goal is to address your pain and restore your quality of life.

Three ways to manage peripheral neuropathy pain

There are a number of treatments that can help manage peripheral neuropathy pain. Here are three kinds we often recommend:

1. Identify and address the underlying cause

Peripheral neuropathy may be related to complications caused by:

  • Traumatic injury
  • Diabetes (most common)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or another autoimmune disorder
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Liver or kidney disease

Understanding and addressing the cause of your neuropathy may help reduce your symptoms or stall the condition’s progression.

For instance, B vitamins (B1, B6, and B12), vitamin E, and niacin are vital to nerve health. Supplements and changes in your diet can help balance deficiencies and protect peripheral nerves from further damage.

2. Injection-based therapies

If physical therapy or oral medications don’t adequately control pain, your Advanced Spine and Pain Clinics specialist may recommend injection-based treatment.

One type of injection therapy deals with masking pain. This could include epidural steroid injections or nerve blocks. These therapies are customized to fit your needs and can reduce inflammation and relieve pain by introducing a numbing agent to the nerve(s) involved.

Another type of injection therapy helps to speed healing in injuries and chronic conditions, thereby reducing or eliminating the pain. This type is called regenerative OrthoBiologics.

3. Nerve stimulation  

With this type of therapy, a medical device can help block pain signals as they travel along nerves to your brain. For example, a spinal cord stimulator emits mild electrical impulses near the targeted nerves. This disrupts the pain signals, which can reduce or eliminate the pain.

Another device is called a dorsal root ganglion stimulator. This treatment is similar to a spinal cord stimulator, but the electrical impulses target the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). This bundle of sensory nerves, which is located within the spine’s epidural space, contains nerves from specific parts of your body. Targeting the DRG offers pain relief for a broader area than a spinal cord stimulator.

You don’t have to live with peripheral neuropathy pain. To get compassionate, advanced care, call 612-207-7463 or book an appointment online with Advanced Spine and Pain Clinics today.