New treatment for neuropathy

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Neuropathy is one of the most common medical problems you may not know about. Affecting close to 20 million Americans, peripheral neuropathy — nerve disease or damage — causes pain and suffering in the form of burning, tingling, numbness and pain.

Neuropathy is one of the most common medical problems you may not know about. Affecting close to 20 million Americans, peripheral neuropathy — nerve disease or damage — causes pain and suffering in the form of burning, tingling, numbness and pain.

“Neuropathy is caused when nerves no longer work correctly,” explains Dr. Amirhassan Bahreman, a board-certified neurologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “It is commonly associated with diabetes, but diabetes is not the only cause.”

In fact, other chronic diseases and medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, infections or thyroid problems, can cause neuropathy. Additional causes include:

Exposure to toxins

Certain medications

Chemotherapy

Heavy alcohol use

Vitamin B-12 deficiencies

Genetic factors

Trauma or overuse injuries

According to Dr. Bahreman, the brain is a “superhighway” of electrical signals. It processes and delivers millions of messages to and from your body every second. 

When nerves become damaged, they are no longer able to correctly send impulses — or messages — to your body, which can cause pain and additional problems, such as:

Balance and coordination issues

Falls and possible fractures from falls

Ulcers

Muscle cramps

Weakness

Decreased dexterity and strength

Sleep problems

Changes in sensitivity to hot and cold

Loss of reflexes

“If left unchecked, neuropathy can have a devastating effect on your life,” says Dr. Bahreman. “It can impair your mobility as well as your ability to perform simple everyday tasks and care for yourself.”

Unfortunately, traditional treatments for neuropathy, which include prescription medications, have not offered long-term relief. Many neuropathy medications have unpleasant side effects and treat only the pain.

Other frequent recommendations, including nerve-blocking injections, orthotics and physical therapy, can be helpful, but do not offer long-lasting results. However, according to Dr. Bahreman, medical knowledge is growing and research discovers new options for the treatment of neuropathy daily.

One breakthrough is electronic signal treatment (EST). Electronic signals are safely transmitted to the body’s deep tissues through superficial electrode patches in multiple treatment sessions over an eight-to-12-week period. It is believed to create healthy change at the cellular level to promote cell membrane repair, reduce swelling and encourage cell healing, leading to nerve regeneration and hopefully recovery from different complications related to neuropathy.

“This development is exciting for both neuropathy sufferers and treatment providers,” says Dr. Bahreman. “Improvements are often noticeable in as few as three or four weeks and can effectively treat neuropathy for a much-improved quality of life.”

This article features experts from Sharp Grossmont Hospital. For more health stories visit www.sharp.com/news.

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