Our sense of touch relies on a network of peripheral nerves that branch off the spinal cord and send signals to the brain. Nerves in our skin and throughout our bodies alert us to everything from the gentlest tickle to the most painful injury. Neuropathy, or damage to one or more of these nerves, can cause sensory changes such as numbness, tingling, and pain. The first step in developing a treatment program is to identify which type of neuropathy is present, says Dr. Mark Bazant, a Norton Healthcare neurologist. While there are several different types of the condition, the two most common ones are carpal tunnel syndrome and peripheral neuropathy.
SOLUTION: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Caused by pinching or compression of a nerve that passes through the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome affects the wrist and fingers. You may notice loss of sensation or strength in your hands, or experience tingling or pain that may travel up the arm. Early medical intervention helps prevent it from getting worse, says Dr. Bazant, so don’t delay seeing your doctor. Treatment options include wrist splints, steroid injections, or surgery, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Also of note is a similar condition called cubital tunnel syndrome, caused by compression of a nerve in the elbow and typically affecting the ring and little fingers.
SOLUTION: Peripheral Neuropathy
Damage to multiple peripheral nerves is called peripheral neuropathy or peripheral polyneuropathy. Diabetes is the most common cause of the condition, but other contributing factors include alcohol abuse, nutritional deficiencies, and medications such as chemotherapy that can be toxic to the nerves, Dr. Bazant says. Usually there is a gradual onset of numbness, tingling, and pain that starts in the feet and can progress upwards toward the hands. Your doctor can offer some medication to ease symptoms, but it’s also important to identify and treat the underlying causes in order to prevent further nerve damage.
BY YELENA SAPIN
P.S. Keep Your Hearing