Unfortunately, when it comes to neuropathy, myths and misinformation are common due to many doctors failing to stay current and consistent in scientific facts and literature. There is a lot of confusing and misconstrued information that can make it difficult to understand, so separating fact from fiction can help you find the most effective treatments to overcome your neuropathic pain.
Neuropathy is a condition of damaged nerves that causes feelings of stabbing, burning, tingling and/or numbness typically in the hands and feet.
There are many factors that can cause this condition, including:
- Metabolic disorders
- Liver or kidney disease
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Poor posture and daily activities that affect the spine
Here are some of the most common myths about neuropathy and why they are false:
- There is no cure for neuropathy. FALSE. There is no medication or surgery to eliminate neuropathy, but there are many treatments available that can aid to decrease pain and other symptoms. This is a natural way for the body to heal itself using the strong healthy cells to repair the old damaged ones.
- Neuropathy is a sign of aging. FALSE. This is one of the biggest myths about neuropathy. Neuropathy can occur in any person at any age. It does generally occur in older adults because of the usual wear on the body. Diabetes can cause neuropathy to occur in people under the age of 20.
- All forms of neuropathy are the same. FALSE. Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, each case of neuropathy differs in each patient. If neuropathy is caused by diabetes, symptoms may be decreased due to a change in daily routine or diet. If the condition is caused by repetitive movement or general wear on the body, there are treatments available to help relieve pain and discomfort associated with the nerves.
- Only those with diabetes can have neuropathy. FALSE. While neuropathy is common in diabetic patients, there is a wide variety and many other causes of this condition, as previously listed. Many people suffer from symptoms of neuropathy that are not diabetic.
- Nerves cannot regenerate. FALSE. Early treatment for neuropathy can improve and help some nerves slowly regenerate, only if the nerve cell is still alive. This can prevent future nerve damage. Good nutrition and proper exercise can also speed up the healing process.
- Numbness and tingling are no big deal. FALSE. Many people believe that the tingling and numbness are manageable or that it will simply go away on its own. This is false. If the conditions of neuropathy are ignored they can generally intensify, causing severe pain, loss of sensation or feeling, and even in more serious cases, disability.
- Neuropathy only affects the hands and feet. FALSE. Neuropathy normally starts at the hands and feet and will gradually grow up the legs and forearms. These symptoms can cause severe cramping or weakness in the legs, dry and discolored skin, and a sensation of pins and needles. In more advanced cases, this condition can cause issues with organ function.
Although many myths float around about neuropathy, be sure to address your care provider when experiencing symptoms associated with this condition. Explain the area in pain and express your questions and concerns, this way a treatment plan can be offered that will benefit you and your overall health.