May 5, 2016

Diagnosis and Treatment

Getting a Neuropathy Diagnosis

Many neuropathy patients have great difficulty receiving a proper diagnosis, one that explains their symptoms and that might even point to a particular cause. The sheer number of different symptoms that could be caused by something other than neuropathy sometimes makes zeroing in on a correct diagnosis a frustrating task. Because it can be such an elusive diagnosis, it falls outside the scope of many physicians’ practices.

If you think you might have a neuropathy, it’s important to see a neuromuscular trained neurologist. It may take consulting more than a single neurologist to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Diagnosis is reached through an extensive neurological exam, patient history, nerve and muscle tests and blood tests. The neurologist may order other tests to determine the extent of the disease, including electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies (NCV), CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nerve biopsy or skin biopsy.

These tests may sound scary, but the unknown is ultimately scarier.  If you are considering these tests, we encourage you to ask your doctor which tests are appropriate for you and why.  The more information you can get about your health, the better you can advocate for yourself.

What are the Treatment Options for Neuropathy?

While currently there is no cure for neuropathy, there are 2 different paths to determine your treatment plan:

  • Treat/ reverse the neuropathy: address the cause
  • Treat the symptoms

If you know the cause of your neuropathy, you’ll want to begin there:

  • Diabetes- control glucose, your weight, and exercise
  • Toxins– remove exposure
  • Vitamin Deficiencies- treat deficiency with supplements
  • Metabolic disease- address that disease
  • Infections- Antivirals/ Antibiotics
  • Auto-Immune Disease- steroids, IVIG (Immunoglobin), Plasmapheresis, Immunosuppressants
  • Inherited disorders– supportive care, corrective surgery

If you have idiopathic neuropathy or are otherwise unable to treat the cause, there are many treatments that can alleviate symptoms and help many patients live a comfortable, meaningful life.

  • pain medication
  • nerve block
  • spinal cord stimulator
  • physical therapy
  • foot care
  • braces and orthotics
  • healthy diet, supplements, exercise
  • alternative options: acupuncture, massage, and Tai Chi
  • emerging therapies (no evidence of success)- stem cell transplant, Scrambler therapy, lasers
  • corrective surgery

For many neuropathy patients, their symptoms are chronic.  In these cases it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and close relationships to support you in your journey.  Neuropathy Alliance of Texas is here to provide a welcoming community for sharing resources and support and to help you live your best life with your neuropathy.

Neuropathy Alliance of Texas does not endorse any specific treatments for neuropathy.  This website is purely for educational purposes.  We encourage you to speak with your doctor about the right treatment plan for you.