200177292-001It is very common to receive the diagnosis of “Neuropathy.” What does this really mean? Neuropathy refers to disease or dysfunction of one (mononeuropathy) or more (polyneuropathy) peripheral sensory nerves (nerves that controls sensation) and/or peripheral motor nerves (nerves that control muscle action). Peripheral nerves are nerves not involving the brain or the spinal cord. Symptoms may include: weakness, uncomfortable and painful sensations including burning, tingling, pins and needles, and electric shock feelings in the arms, hands, legs and/or feet.

The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is Diabetes. However, one can also have peripheral neuropathy secondary to many other diagnoses; including Shingles (posthepatic neuralgia), kidney failure, liver disease, immunodeficiency disorders, lyme disease, autoimmune disorders, hypothyroidism, heavy metal toxicity, and various vitamin deficiencies, to name a few.

Contrary to information you may have received, MOST causes of peripheral neuropathy can be successfully treated or prevented. The key to successful treatment is accurate diagnosis of the specific cause of symptoms, which varies in each patient. The most common mistake is lumping all peripheral neuropathy diagnoses into one basket, and implementing the same treatment plan for every patient. This often leads to failure in reaching the desired treatment goal.

Another common misconception includes patients thinking they have peripheral neuropathy (simply because they have Diabetes), when in fact, the symptoms in the arms and legs are not diabetic peripheral neuropathy at all… but the symptoms are actually being caused by a spine problem.

Spinal problems can lead to leg and/or arm symptoms that may be confused with neuropathy, even by well experienced clinicians. It is important to realize that your spine may be the cause of your upper or lower extremity symptoms if you are having leg pain, or arm pain that is not responding to other treatments.

Additionally, symptoms that may be attributed to restless leg syndrome may be occurring due to spinal causes. Spinal pathologies including herniated discs, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, benign and metastatic spinal tumors (to name a few) may result in leg or arm symptoms including numbness, tingling, pins and needles and weakness. Also, vascular pathologies can also lead to extremity symptoms.

The highly skilled and trained Specialists at the Spine Institute of Central Florida specialize in properly assessing and diagnosing the cause of your extremity symptoms.

After the cause of your symptoms have been accurately identified using specialized diagnostic tests, and examination, an effective treatment plan is developed tailored specifically to the cause of your symptoms.

At the Spine Institute of Central Florida, you can rest assured that we employ a comprehensive multidisciplinary treatment approach in treating your symptoms. Our experts employ cutting edge and highly effective treatments which may include new generation neuropathic oral medications, highly effective topical medications, specialized infra-red based therapy programs, neurodiagnostic injections, diagnostic epidural injections, transforaminal injections, peripheral nerve blocks and steroid injections, spinal cord stimulation, neuromodulation therapies, peripheral nerve field stimulation (PNFS), and state-of-the-art cutting edge minimally invasive spine surgical procedures aimed at relieving your symptoms, restoring function, and getting you back to doing what you love. We empower our patients to be involved in all decision making relating to their care.

The important take home point is: if you have extremity (arms, hands, legs, and feet) symptoms that are persisting, or not responding to current treatments, you should seek a second opinion. It may not be neuropathy, or it may be that the exact cause of your neuropathy is not yet identified. Remember, ALWAYS take full control of your health, get informed, and don’t leave the decision of what will give you the best quality of life to someone else. Ask questions of your physicians, seek other opinions, and then make an informed decision of which treatment(s) will best suit your needs.