Damage to the nerves causes neuropathy. The nerves may be damaged by a health disorder such as diabetes or an injury. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of neuropathy that affects the nerves of the legs, feet and hands. Damage to the nerves of the buttock, hips and thighs is called proximal neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy is a type of neuropathy that affects the involuntary nervous system. Damage to the cranial nerves causes cranial neuropathy.
Treatment for neuropathy primarily focuses on reducing neuropathy pain and treating the underling disease or injury responsible for nerve damage. Conventional treatment includes oral and topical pain relief drugs, anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants for decreasing pain. Complementary and alternative therapies can also alleviate the symptoms of neuropathy.
Treatment Options for Neuropathy
Pain Relief Medications
Over-the-counter pain relief drugs can provide relief from mild neuropathy pain. Moderate to severe pain may require prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for reducing the pain.When neuropathy pain does not respond to conventional pain relief medications, opiates are prescribed by physicians. However, these drugs are recommended only for short-term use. Drowsiness, constipation and risk of addiction to the drugs are some of the adverse reactions of opiate-based drugs.
Topical Pain Relief Medications
Topical pain relief drugs are considered safer alternatives to oral drugs for treating chronic neuropathy pain. They include topical anesthetics such as lidocaine that reduces pain by numbing the sensitive nerves in the affected areas. By obstructing transmission of the pain signals to the brain, capsaicin ointments can provide relief from neuropathy pain.
Anti-seizure drugs are an effective option for treating neuropathy pain. They work by interfering with the transmission process of the pain signals emitted from the damaged nerves.Anti-seizure medications used for neuropathy pain treatment include carbamazepine, gabapentin, pregabalin, phenytoin and topiramate.
Antidepressants work by changing the levels of the neurotransmitters in the brain, which can reduce the sensation of pain. Increasing the levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine with antidepressants causes significant improvement in the neuropathy symptoms.
Alpha lipoic acid supplements are beneficial for people suffering from neuropathy. According to studies, regular intake of at least 600 mg of alpha lipoic acid per day causes significant improvement in the neuropathy symptoms in diabetic neuropathy patients.Gamma linolenic acid supplement is also useful for neuropathy patients. Gamma-linolenic acid is a type of omega-6 fat that occurs naturally in borage seed oil, black currant seed oil and evening primrose oil. Taking gamma linolenic acid supplement at least for six months reduces neuropathy pain. It works by inhibiting the activities of inflammatory immune substances that trigger pain.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a type of amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body. It supports energy production, muscle movement and various other functions. Neuropathy in diabetics is believed to be a result of acetyl-L-carnitine deficiency. Ingestion of acetyl-L-carnitine supplements can reduce the neuropathy symptoms.
Acupuncture can benefit neuropathy patients. The treatment involving insertion of needles at specific points is believed to stimulate the natural pain reduction mechanism of the body.
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