Do you have numbness, burning, stabbing pain in the hands and feet? It's called by many names: neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, or nerve pain. Thankfully, podiatrists have many treatment options available to offer their neuropathy patients. One revolutionary treatment is TENS, or Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation. To know if it can be helpful, the doctor and patient should evaluate this signs and symptoms of this chronic and potentially debilitating health problem, determine its cause, and then decide if TENS is the right way to go.
What is the source of neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is caused by a wide range of health issues, with the most common culprit being diabetes. However, other common causes include:
- exposure to toxins
- problems with metabolism
- vitamin deficiencies, particularly in B1, B6, B12, E and Niacin
Besides the characteristic pain, numbness and tingling, neuropathy can cause other issues such as blood pressure fluctuations, muscle weakness, sensitivity to touch, heat intolerance, sweating, and bladder and bowel problems.
There is hope for nerve pain.
Sufferers say neuropathy is persistently troublesome, causing sleep disturbances and reduced sensation which can lead to unrecognized and untreated injuries and infections. Doctors can prescribe medications to reduce these signs and symptoms. They may even use surgery and physical therapy to treat neuropathy.
A promising tool in the fight against peripheral neuropathy is TENS.
What is TENS, and how can it help?
TENS, or Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation, is a procedure that can be prescribed, in which an experienced and skilled foot doctor can apply to a patient's extremity to relieve the symptoms of neuropathy and, in particular, its pain.
Electrodes are put on the patient's skin with a light adhesive. The doctor positions them above and below the symptomatic area of the body. Then, the TENS unit delivers small electrical impulses to the area.
These electrical impulses are painless for the patient, and no drugs are used during the treatment. The science behind TENS is simple: the electricity blocks the pain signals which the affected nerves are sending to the brain.
In addition, research seems to indicate that the electricity stimulates the pituitary gland and the central nervous system to produce their own natural painkillers called endorphins. While the pain-reducing effect is temporary, it can provide the individual with significant relief from the stabbing, burning and tingling sensations characteristic of peripheral neuropathy.
Can TENS help me manage my neuropathy?
Individuals who suffer from peripheral neuropathy should discuss this with their health care provider, and in particular, with a skilled podiatrist. Other lifestyle helps include:
- stopping smoking
- controlling blood sugar levels
- wearing supportive shoes and cotton socks
- eating a healthy diet
- limiting the intake of alcohol
For further information on TENS, call the Foot and Ankle Institute of Nevada in Sparks, Nevada. Douglas Doxey DPM ABPS and L. Bruce Ford DPM, DABPS will help you get to the source of your nerve pain and put together a treatment plan to relieve the symptoms. Call their office for an appointment: 508-222-2510.