Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy is a malfunction in the nerves where it can either be oversensitive to pain or not send any pain signals when pain is present. Neuropathy can be caused by injury, an illness, infections and autoimmune disorders, or an inherited disorder. Neuropathy common after radiation/ chemotherapy therapy or after a diagnosis of HIV/Aids.
Developing neuropathy means there is damage to the nerves and the cause of the neuropathy needs to be investigated. The nerves have an incredible ability to heal so the sooner you seek treatment the better the chances of recovery. The healing of nerves takes a long time and it might not completely heal. The longer you leave peripheral neuropathy the more lasting the damage to the nerve.
Because there are so many types of neuropathy we only provide a general guideline and symptoms may vary.
- Sensations of numbness, tingling or burning pain – the most common symptom.
- Reduction in mobility from pain
- Changes in your sweat production
- Loss of sensation
- Changes in perception to heat and cold
- Weakness/ twitching
- Skin thinning
- Heaviness in arms or legs
- Pain with no apparent physical structural cause or inflammatory cause.
- Pain resistant to normal ‘anti-nociceptive drugs’ (pain killers)
- Pain in distribution of a specific nerve or spinal root. (leg pain with / without back pain, arm pain with / without neck pain)
- Acute shingles – older patients in winter months. HIV and cancer patients – reduced immunity.
- Post herpes neuralgia – persistent pain after shingles.
- Phantom limb pain etc.
- Neuralgia – trigeminal – face pain
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Burning feet.
- After Chemo Therapy
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Post-operative pain becoming chronic
All types of post-surgical pain can become chronic.
Certain surgeries are especially prone to becoming chronic and difficult to control – thoracotomy, breast surgery, spine surgery, inguinal hernia surgery, caesarian section and pelvic surgery to name a few.
- Chronic pelvic pain – post surgery, uncontrollable endometriosis
- Cancer and terminal pain – many excellent pain relief options available to these patients which do not sedate them or reduce their quality of life.