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How do I Exercise with Neuropathy?

How do I Exercise with Neuropathy?

Water aerobics is an exercise performed in a pool.
Water aerobics is an exercise performed in a pool.

To exercise with neuropathy, or nerve damage, you should aim for a moderate workout schedule rather than overdoing it. It’s important to have regular exercise sessions though, because it may lessen the extent or intensity of neuropathy over time. In general, exercises that don’t put a lot of pressure on the skeleton, especially the feet, are good for people with neuropathy.

Exercising in the water puts little stress on the joints and bones, and may be recommended for those with neuropathy.
Exercising in the water puts little stress on the joints and bones, and may be recommended for those with neuropathy.

Running, jogging, hiking, walking and step aerobics may be too much when exercising with nerve damage. If you have moderate to severe neuropathy in the feet or legs, overdoing or even moderately doing these activities may cause foot ulcers or joint damage. If the feet or legs aren’t swollen, sore or have a “pins and needles” feeling, then a limited amount of these types of exercises may be able to be done.

Running, jogging, hiking, and walking may be too much when exercising with nerve damage.
Running, jogging, hiking, and walking may be too much when exercising with nerve damage.

Aqua aerobics in the shallow end of a swimming pool may be fine in moderation, as the water helps cushion the feet and joints. However, as there is still contact with the feet on the pool floor, deep water aerobics can offer even more cushioning exercises. Swimming is often an excellent physical activity for those who exercise with neuropathy. Since it involves whole body movement, swimming can provide overall toning as well as cardiovascular benefits when done at a brisk pace.

While regular exercise is especially important for diabetics with neuropathy, as it can help lower blood sugar, proper fitting shoes and checks of the feet after workouts is important. Yoga can be an extremely beneficial exercise with neuropathy, as it’s gentle on the body, but if it’s done in bare feet, diabetics must be sure to take caution in not getting any scrapes or even a tiny pebble on either foot. Something as minor as a scratch on the foot may go unnoticed by those with neuropathy, as their feet are typically numb. If untreated, a foot infection may become so severe that amputation is necessary.

Individuals suffering from neuropathy may not notice scratches on their feet.
Individuals suffering from neuropathy may not notice scratches on their feet.

If you begin the type of exercise that best suits your degree of neuropathy, you should aim for about 30 minutes three to five times a week, depending on your fitness level and physician’s recommendations. In addition to water exercises, cycling may be another activity that you find you can do with neuropathy. It’s important to begin any type of exercise with neuropathy slowly and build up your time spent on it gradually.

 

Article Provided By: thehealthboard

Olympic Photo by Alex Smith on Unsplash

 

If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

 

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Responding to Weather Changes When Caring for Neuropathy Patients

Responding to Weather Changes When Caring for Neuropathy Patients

Ezekiel Lim avatar

by Ezekiel Lim | 

weather changes

Patients with familial amyloid polyneuropathy may find that changes in seasons increase discomfort. Colder temperatures require layers of clothing that may bother someone with peripheral neuropathy symptoms. A change to hotter temperatures may cause increased discomfort to someone already experiencing burning sensations due to nerve damage.

Caregivers can take steps to help manage the impact of weather changes on neuropathy patients.

Cold weather and neuropathy

Patients with peripheral neuropathy symptoms experience a slowing of blood flow to nerve endings, causing numbness and tingling. Colder temperatures may make it difficult for patients to measure their bodies’ response to the climate.

My family lives in an area known for weather extremes. When spending time with my mother-in-law during the winter months, it is important for us not only to make sure she has adequate layers of clothing, but also to know when the bundled clothing is causing her discomfort.

Following are some tips for caregivers who are managing the daily care of a loved one during a change to colder weather:

  • Make sure the patient is wearing warm, comfortable clothing that isn’t too heavy.
  • Protect the patient’s hands and feet with warm gloves and neuropathy socks.
  • Massage areas where circulation may be lacking.
  • Limit the time spent outside in the cold.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake as they may respectively narrow blood cells and cause vitamin deficiency.

Managing symptoms in heat

Hotter temperatures may exacerbate the tingling and burning sensations that neuropathy patients experience. During a transition from cold winters to mild or hot months, caregivers must gauge their loved one’s peripheral symptoms. Just as in winter months, patients may have difficulty measuring their bodily responses to temperature.

For caregivers managing responses to hotter temperatures, following are some tips for ensuring patient comfort:

  • Keep time spent outside to a minimum and, if needed, stay indoors all day.
  • Make sure air conditioning is adjusted to a comfortable level to avoid interacting with symptoms of numbness.
  • Make sure your loved one is adequately fed and hydrated.
  • Understand the patient’s comfort level and make sure they are wearing lighter layers of clothing.
  • Try using topical treatments and cooling products when the patient begins to feel too hot.

The pain caused by humidity and summer heat may cause increased discomfort in those suffering from peripheral neuropathy symptoms. By ensuring the patient has a comfortable indoor environment, the change in temperature will not exacerbate chronic pain.

Article Provided By: fapnewstoday
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

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Is Your Sciatica Coming From Your Spine or Your SI Joint?

Is Your Sciatica Coming From Your Spine or Your SI Joint?

If you have pain radiating down your leg, you may immediately think: “I have a pinched nerve in my back.” But sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction can also cause pain that radiates down the leg. So, how do you tell the difference?

First, it’s important to understand that sciatica is not a diagnosis: it’s a symptom related to an underlying condition. Sciatica is the sensation of pain, tingling, weakness, and/or numbness in the lower extremities that is typically caused by compression or irritation of a spinal nerve(s) or of the sciatic nerve itself (see diagram). Usually, the nerve compression or irritation occurs in the lumbar spine.

 

The tricky thing is, the real source of the pain might be something else: your SI joint.

Start here to better understand your symptoms and what to do about them:

  • Nerve Compression or Irritation from the Spine Versus Nerve Irritation Related to the SI Joint:
  • SI Joint and Sciatica: Understand the Definitions
  • View Causes of Sciatica
  • Tests that Determine the Source of Your Leg or Lower Back Pain
  • Potential Treatments to Relieve the Pain

Nerve Compression or Irritation from the Spine Versus Nerve Irritation Related to the SI joint:

Even if you’ve determined that you have sciatica, the cause could be nerve irritation or compression in the spine OR you may have an SI joint problem OR a combination of both. The L5 and S1 spinal nerves are located very close to the SI joint, and SI joint dysfunction could result in irritation of those nearby nerves.

How can you be certain what’s causing the pain?

The only way to truly know what’s going on is to see your doctor and describe what you are feeling and experiencing. Your doctor will likely ask many questions, ask you to point to the source of your pain, and perform a physical exam.

 

Sciatic anterior

Here are a few subtle differences that he or she may be looking for:

Sciatica and other symptoms
from Nerve Compression in the Spine
Sciatica and other symptoms
from the SI Joint
  • Pain that starts in the lower back and goes down one leg (the leg pain is usually greater than the low back pain)
  • Lower back pain (below L5) that is off to one side that you can typically point to
  • Pelvis/buttock pain
  • Hip/groin pain
  • Pain, weakness, and/or numbness or a tingling sensation radiating to the calf, foot, or toes along the back of your buttock, thigh, and calf. You may have actual weakness and/or numbness as a result of compressed nerves.
  • Pain can be mild to excruciating; it may feel like an “electric shock”
  • Sensation in lower extremity: pain, numbness, tingling, weakness. Upon exam, patients do not usually have true weakness or numbness.
  • Typically, the pain stays above the knee, but can radiate down the leg to the calf or foot.
  • Severe cases may result in significant leg weakness
  • (Weakness, numbness, and reflex changes are called radiculopathy.)
  • Feeling of pain and leg instability (buckling, giving way) when standing.
  • The leg isn’t actually weak; the leg gives way because of the severe pain you may experience when the SI joint is loaded.
  • Sitting for a long time can make symptoms worse.
  • Pain going from sitting to standing. Unable to sit for long periods of time or sitting or sleeping on one side due to the pain. (Disturbed sitting and sleeping patterns.)
  • Typically felt on one side.
  • Can be on one or both sides, although typically on one side.

It’s rare for someone with sciatica from an SI joint problem to have real numbness, weakness, or reflex changes. This is because there is rarely a physical compression of the nerve. The L5 and/or S1 nerves are irritated (called radiculitis) when they cross near the SI joint, but these nerves are not compressed.

Your radiating leg pain (sciatica) can be from your spine or from your SI joint. However, it is possible to be diagnosed with problems in both areas. That’s why it’s so important to visit your doctor to truly determine what is causing your low back or leg pain.

SI Joint and Sciatica Definitions

Let’s back up a step and make sure we fully understand the definitions of sciatica and SI joint dysfunction.

What Is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a symptom (radiating leg pain) caused by a problem with the spinal nerve(s) or sciatic nerve, such as compression or irritation, which sends signals of pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness. The sciatic nerve is a made up of several nerves from your lower spine; it extends down the back of your leg to the bottom of your foot. You have one on each side. Sometimes, the compression in the spine affects nerves on both the left and right sides of the body.

The sciatic nerve carries nerve signals down to the muscles and sensation signals up to the spinal cord. These signals tell your muscles to move; when these signals are disrupted, this is why you might sometimes feel weakness or buckling in the knee.

What Is SI Joint Dysfunction?

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction is caused by trauma or degeneration of the SI joint. The SI joint is where your iliac bone (pelvis) connects to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine above the tailbone).

The SI joint is responsible for transferring the weight from your upper body to your pelvis and legs. Pain caused by SI joint dysfunction can be felt in the lower back or spine, buttocks, pelvis, groin, and sometimes in the legs, which makes it seem like the cause could be nerve compression in the spine.

The L5 and S1 nerves are near the SI joint and studies have shown that SI joint dysfunction can cause pain and other symptoms in the distribution of these nerves.

The SI joint is separate from the sciatic or spinal nerve(s); however, the SI joint can cause sciatica-like symptoms.

Underlying Causes of Sciatica Pain and SI Joint Pain

Oftentimes, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of pain. Nerve compression in the spine and SI joint dysfunction are two areas that often cause pain running down the back of the leg.

 

Spine Problems that Can Result in Sciatica

  • A bulging, ruptured, or herniated disc in the spine
  • Central spinal stenosis or when your central spinal canal is constricted
  • Foraminal stenosis, when the openings where the nerves leave the spine become tight
  • Spondylolisthesis (or segmental instability), when one vertebra slips forward in the lower back
  • Facet arthropathy, a wearing down of the cartilage between the facet joints in the back of the spine
  • Injury or infection
  • Nutritional deficiencies and genetic problems (less common)

SI Joint Dysfunction: Potential Causes

  • Trauma to the SI joint from a fall, car accident, or giving birth
  • Degeneration of the SI joint

Both situations can be acute (lasting a couple weeks and resolving on its own) or chronic (lasting a very long time).

People with chronic SI joint dysfunction can suffer with the pain for years before they receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.

If your pain has lasted more than a couple weeks or is impacting your daily life, see a doctor right away.

Sciatic posterior

Testing to Determine the Source of Your Leg or Lower Back Pain

Your doctor will likely ask many questions, such as when the pain started, how long it lasts, and what causes it to get worse or better. Answers to these questions will provide clues to which tests you should get first.

For example, if your pain started after a fall on the buttocks or if it extends to the groin area, that might be a clue that it’s SI-joint-related, and you may require physical examination including provocative tests.

Provocative tests help determine whether the pain is caused by the SI joint. A diagnostic injection can help confirm diagnosis. If you are experiencing true muscle weakness, this could indicate that you have a pinched nerve in the spine. When nerves are compressed/irritated in the spine, patients will frequently have a positive passive straight leg raising test.

Your doctor will also likely rule out potential causes of nerve compression in the spine, such as a bulging disc, with an MRI of the spine and other radiological and laboratory testing.

Sometimes patients are misdiagnosed, like in the case of Keith, who was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in the spine but in reality, had SI joint dysfunction. The pain was coming from his SI joint. See Keith’s Sciatica from SI Joint Pain Story.

Treatments to Relieve the Pain

Conservative therapies to treat sciatica from both the spine or the SI joint may include therapeutic injections of steroids, which may offer temporary relief. For sciatica related to the spine, the injection will be targeted in the lumbar spine at the site of the nerve compression. For sciatica related to SI joint dysfunction, the injection will be targeted in the SI joint.

Treatment of spinal conditions may include medications, physical therapy (including exercises specific for sciatic pain), and in extreme cases, surgery to remove the pressure from the pinched nerve(s) in the spine.

SI joint dysfunction treatments also include medications, physical therapy and other non-surgical treatments, and if non-surgical treatments no longer work, minimally invasive SI joint fusion may be an option.

If you suspect your lower back and leg pain is caused by your sacroiliac joint or your spine, visit your doctor with a list of symptoms, including when the pain started, and what makes it worse. If it turns out you need an SI joint specialist, you can find one in your area here.

 

Article Provided By: SI-Bone.com

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

 

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What Is Nerve Pain (and How Does It Differ From Other Kinds of Pain?)

What Is Nerve Pain (and How Does It Differ From Other Kinds of Pain?)

“Can you describe your pain?” This will likely be one of the first questions your doctor asks if you complain of chronic pain. Unless there’s an obvious reason for pain, your doctor needs a lot of information to identify the underlying cause. This includes the location, type, intensity and frequency of pain. The doctor is partly trying to determine whether the pain is nociceptive or neuropathic (also called nerve pain), or possibly both.

“This can be tricky because all pain is experienced through the nerves,” says sports medicine specialist Dominic King, DO. Damage to bodily tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments or the capsules around joints, causes nociceptive pain. Nerve receptors adjacent to the damaged tissue, called nociceptors, transmit a pain signal to the brain. This type of pain tends to feel sharp, achy, dull or throbbing.

Understanding ‘electric pain’

If you’re experiencing something that feels more like burning, stabbing, or shooting pain ― especially if there also is numbness or tingling ― it’s likely to be neuropathic pain. This means there is direct damage or irritation to a nerve. “It can cause a lightning strike type of electric pain,” says Dr. King.

Nerve pain can arise from a variety of causes, including diabetes, infections (such as shingles), multiple sclerosis, the effects of chemotherapy or trauma. When it comes to orthopeadic issues, nerve pain often stems from a nerve being pinched by nearby bones, ligaments and other structures.

For example, a herniated disk in the spine or a narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis) can press on a nerve as it leaves the spinal canal. This can cause pain along the path of the nerve. When nerves that originate in the lower spine are affected, symptoms might be felt in the buttocks or down a leg. If the compressed nerve is in the upper spine, the pain and other symptoms can shoot down the arm. Numbness or tingling may also occur because the brain is not receiving a consistent signal due to the compression.

Another common cause of nerve pain is carpal tunnel syndrome. A nerve and several tendons travel through a passageway in the wrist (the carpal tunnel) to the hand. Inflammation in the tunnel can press on the nerve, causing numbness and tingling in the thumb and fingers.

How is the cause of nerve pain found?

“There are so many orthopaedic conditions that overlap between pain stemming from problems with tendons, muscles, joints and nerves that you need a very discerning physician to do a good physical exam to figure out the cause,” says Dr. King. “I make my determination based on when the patient experiences pain, where the pain is located and what the pain feels like.”

Pain related to joints, such as from arthritis, will feel more like stiffness when going from sitting to standing. With tendon pain, it will feel sore when you push on the affected area. “Nerve pain is more of a burning, fiery pain,” says Dr. King. And it tends to come and go.

“Nerve pain typically gets worse with more and more use and can be associated with numbness,” says Dr. King.

Ultimately, getting the right treatment depends on getting the right diagnosis. For many bone and joint conditions, nondrug treatment will be tried first. Sometimes pain medication is needed. However, neuropathic pain does not respond to drugs commonly used for nociceptive pain, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.

 

Article Provided By: clevelandclinic

 

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SC

If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

 

 

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Femoral Neuropathy

Femoral Neuropathy

Femoral neuropathy, or femoral nerve dysfunction, occurs when you can’t move or feel part of your leg because of damaged nerves, specifically the femoral nerve. This can result from an injury, prolonged pressure on the nerve, or damage from disease. In most cases, this condition will go away without treatment. However, medications and physical therapy may be necessary if symptoms don’t improve.

What causes femoral neuropathy?

The femoral nerve is one of the largest nerves in your leg. It’s located near the groin and controls the muscles that help straighten your leg and move your hips. It also provides feeling in the lower part of your leg and the front of your thigh. Because of where it’s located, damage to the femoral nerve is uncommon relative to neuropathies caused by damage to other nerves. When the femoral nerve is damaged, it affects your ability to walk and may cause problems with sensation in your leg and foot. View the femoral nerve on this BodyMap of the femur.

Damage to the femoral nerve can be the result of:

  • a direct injury
  • a tumor or other growth blocking or trapping part of your nerve
  • prolonged pressure on the nerve, such as from prolonged immobilization
  • a pelvic fracture
  • radiation to the pelvis
  • hemorrhage or bleeding into the space behind the abdomen, which is called the retroperitoneal space
  • a catheter placed into the femoral artery, which is necessary for certain surgical procedures

Diabetes may cause femoral neuropathy. Diabetes can cause widespread nerve damage due to fluctuations in blood sugar and blood pressure. Nerve damage that affects your legs, feet, toes, hands, and arms is known as peripheral neuropathy. There is currently some debate about whether femoral neuropathy is truly a peripheral neuropathy or a form of diabetic amyotrophy.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), diabetes is the most common reason for peripheral neuropathy in people who’ve had diabetes for at least 25 years.

Signs of femoral neuropathy

This nerve condition can lead to difficulties moving around. Your leg or knee might feel weak, and you may be unable to put pressure on the affected leg.

You might also feel unusual sensations in your legs. They include:

  • numbness in any part of the leg (typically the front and inside of the thigh, but potentially all the way down to the feet)
  • tingling in any part of the leg
  • dull aching pain in the genital region
  • lower extremity muscle weakness
  • difficulty extending the knee due to quadriceps weakness
  • feeling like your leg or knee is going to give out (buckle) on you
How serious is it?

Prolonged pressure placed on the femoral nerve can prevent blood from flowing in the affected area. The decreased blood flow can result in tissue damage.

If your nerve damage is the result of an injury, it may be possible that your femoral vein or artery is also damaged. This could cause dangerous internal bleeding. The femoral artery is a very large artery that lies close to the femoral nerve. Trauma often damages both at the same time. Injury to the artery or bleeding from the artery can cause compression on the nerve.

Additionally, the femoral nerve provides sensation to a major portion of the leg. This loss of sensation can lead to injuries. Having weak leg muscles can make you more prone to falling. Falls are of particular concern in older adults because they can cause hip fractures, which are very serious injuries.

Diagnosing femoral neuropathy

Initial tests

To diagnose femoral neuropathy and its cause, your doctor will perform a comprehensive physical exam and ask questions about recent injuries or surgeries, as well as questions about your medical history.

To look for weakness, they will test specific muscles that receive sensation from the femoral nerve. Your doctor will probably check your knee reflexes and ask about changes in feeling in the front part of the thigh and the middle part of the leg. The goal of the evaluation is to determine whether the weakness involves only the femoral nerve or if other nerves also contribute.

Additional testing might include:

Nerve conduction

Nerve conduction checks the speed of electrical impulses in your nerves. An abnormal response, such as a slow time for electrical signals to travel through your nerves, usually indicates damage to the nerve in question.

Electromyography (EMG)

Electromyography (EMG) should be performed after the nerve conduction test to see how well your muscles and nerves are working. This test records the electrical activity present in your muscles when the nerves that lead to them are active. The EMG will determine whether the muscle responds appropriately to stimulation. Certain medical conditions cause muscles to fire on their own, which is an abnormality that an EMG can reveal. Because nerves stimulate and control your muscles, the test can identify problems with both muscles and nerves.

MRI and CT scans

An MRI scan can look for tumors, growths, or any other masses in the area of the femoral nerve that could cause compression on the nerve. MRI scans use radio waves and magnets to produce a detailed image of the part of your body that is being scanned.

A CT scan can also look for vascular or bone growths.

The first step in treating femoral neuropathy is dealing with the underlying condition or cause. If compression on the nerve is the cause, the goal will be to relieve the compression. Occasionally in mild injuries, such as mild compression or a stretch injury, the problem may resolve spontaneously. For people with diabetes, bringing blood sugar levels back to normal may alleviate nerve dysfunction. If your nerve doesn’t improve on its own, you’ll need treatment. This usually involves medications and physical therapy.

Medications

You might have corticosteroid injections in your leg to reduce inflammation and get rid of any swelling that occurs. Pain medications can help relieve any pain and discomfort. For neuropathic pain, your doctor may prescribe medications, such as gabapentin, pregabalin, or amitriptyline.

Therapy

Physical therapy can help build up the strength in your leg muscles again. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen and stretch your muscles. Undergoing physical therapy helps to reduce pain and promote mobility.

You might need to use an orthopedic device, such as a brace, to assist you with walking. Usually, a knee brace is helpful in preventing knee buckling.

Depending on how severe the nerve damage is and how much trouble you’re having moving around, you might also need occupational therapy. This type of therapy helps you learn to do regular tasks like bathing and other self-care activities. These are called “activities of daily living.” Your doctor might also recommend vocational counseling if your condition forces you to find another line of work.

Surgery

Your doctor might recommend surgery if you have a growth blocking your femoral nerve. Removing the growth will relieve the pressure on your nerve.

Long-term outlook after treatment

You might be able to heal fully after you treat the underlying condition. If the treatment isn’t successful or if the femoral nerve damage is severe, you might permanently lose feeling in that part of your leg or the ability to move it.

Tips to prevent nerve damage

You can lower your risk of femoral neuropathy caused by diabetes by keeping your blood sugar levels under control. This helps protect your nerves from damage caused by this disease. Preventive measures would be directed at each cause. Talk to your doctor for advice about what preventive measures would be the best for you.

Maintaining an active lifestyle helps to keep your leg muscles strong and improve stability.

Last medically reviewed on September 13, 2017

 

Article Provided By: healthline

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

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If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

 

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Managing & Coping with Neuropathy

Managing & Coping with Neuropathy

What predicts depression and anxiety among people with PN? Not necessarily the severity of the PN symptoms! The predictors are the psychological variables (i.e.: How do you feel? Hopeless, optimistic, anxious, etc.); social variables (i.e.: Are you active? Do you have support?) All of these variables can be changed!

Dwelling on what might have been if you were not diagnosed, self-pitying, ruminating about better times, and think of yourself primarily as a “PN patient” does not provide the escape from stress of the illness. These coping strategies are ineffective and can make your neuropathy symptoms worse.

Below are effective Self-Care and Coping Skills:

Managing Peripheral Neuropathy

The following suggestions can help you manage peripheral neuropathy:

Take care of your feet, especially if you have diabetes. Check your feet daily for signs of blisters, cuts or calluses. Tight shoes and socks can worsen pain and tingling and may lead to sores that won’t heal. Wear soft, loose cotton socks and padded shoes. You can use a semicircular hoop, which is available in medical supply stores, to keep bed covers off hot or sensitive feet.

Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking can affect circulation, increasing the risk of foot problems and possibly amputation.

Eat healthy meals. If you’re at high risk of neuropathy or have a chronic medical condition, healthy eating is especially important. Emphasize low-fat meats and dairy products and include lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Drink alcohol in moderation.

Massage. Massage your hands and feet, or have someone massage them for you. Massage helps improve circulation, stimulates nerves and may temporarily relieve pain.

Avoid prolonged pressure. Don’t keep your knees crossed or lean on your elbows for long periods of time. Doing so may cause new nerve damage.

Skills for Coping With Peripheral Neuropathy

Living with chronic pain or disability presents daily challenges. Some of these suggestions may make it easier for you to cope:

Set priorities. Decide which tasks you need to do on a given day, such as paying bills or shopping for groceries, and which can wait until another time. Stay active, but don’t overdo.

Acceptance & Acknowledgement. Accept and acknowledge the negative aspects of the illness, but then move forward to become more positive to find what works best for you.

Find the positive aspects of the disorder. Of course you are thinking there is nothing positive about PN. Perhaps your outlook can help increase empathy, encourage you to maintain a balanced schedule or maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Get out of the house. When you have severe pain, it’s natural to want to be alone. But this only makes it easier to focus on your pain. Instead, visit a friend, go to a movie or take a walk.

Get moving.  Develop an exercise program that works for you to maintain your optimum fitness.   It gives you something you can control, and provides so many benefits to your physical and emotional well-being

Seek and accept support. It isn’t a sign of weakness to ask for or accept help when you need it. In addition to support from family and friends, consider joining a chronic pain support group. Although support groups aren’t for everyone, they can be good places to hear about coping techniques or treatments that have worked for others. You’ll also meet people who understand what you’re going through. To find a support group in your community, check with your doctor, a nurse or the county health department.

Prepare for challenging situations. If something especially stressful is coming up in your life, such as a move or a new job, knowing what you have to do ahead of time can help you cope.

Talk to a counselor or therapist. Insomnia, depression and impotence are possible complications of peripheral neuropathy. If you experience any of these, you may find it helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist in addition to your primary care doctor. There are treatments that can help.

How to Sleep With Neuropathy

Sleep is an essential part of living—sleep helps us avoid major health problems and it is essential to our mental and physical performance.  It affects our mood and stress and anxiety levels. Unfortunately, sleep disturbance or insomnia is often a side effect of neuropathy pain. It is a common complaint among people with living with chronic pain.

It’s no surprise that about 70 percent of pain patients, including those suffering from PN, back pain, headaches, arthritis and fibromyalgia, report they have trouble sleeping according to the Journal of Pain Medicine.

Pain can interfere with sleep due to a combination of issues. The list includes discomfort, reduced activity levels, anxiety, worry, depression and use of medications such as codeine that relieve pain but disturb sleep.

Most experts recommend a range of seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults, regardless of age or gender. This may seem impossible to people with chronic pain, but there are steps you can take to improve your sleep, which may lead to less pain and lower levels of depression and anxiety. First, talk with your doctor to see if there are medications that may lessen your sleep disturbance. You should also check with your doctor to make sure your current medications aren’t causing some of your sleep disturbance.

Beyond medication, there are several things you can do yourself to improve your sleep. Here are some methods to try and help you fall asleep more quickly, help you sleep more deeply, help you stay asleep, and ultimately help keep you healthy.

Following are tips for improving your sleep:

  • Reduce your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoons
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit and/or omit alcohol consumption
  • Limit naps to less than one hour, preferably less
  • Don’t stay in bed too long—spending time in bed without sleeping leads to more shallow sleep
  • Adhere to a regular daily schedule including going to bed and getting up at the same time
  • Maintain a regular exercise program. Be sure to complete exercise several hours before bedtime
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable. You should have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam or egg crate toppers, and pillows that provide more support
  • Keep your room cool. The temperature of your bedroom also affects sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 65° F or 18° C) with adequate ventilation. A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can interfere with quality sleep.
  • Turn off your TV and Computer, many people use the television to fall asleep or relax at the end of the day. Not only does the light suppress melatonin production, but television can actually stimulate the mind, rather than relaxing it.
  • Don’t watch the clock – turn your alarm clock around so that it is not facing you
  • Keep a note pad and pencil by your bed to write down any thoughts that may wake you up at night so you can put them to rest
  • Refrain from taking a hot bath or shower right before bed; the body needs to cool a degree before getting into deep sleep
  • Try listening to relaxing soft music or audio books instead, or practicing relaxation exercises.

Visualizing a peaceful, restful place. Close your eyes and imagine a place or activity that is calming and peaceful for you. Concentrate on how relaxed this place or activity makes you feel.

Some patients find comfort from a pillow between their legs that keeps their knees from touching.  And there’s an added benefit:  A pillow between your legs at night will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment and reduces stress on your hips and lower back.

It may take three to four weeks of trying these techniques before you begin to see an improvement in your sleep. During the first two weeks, your sleep may actually worsen before it improves, but improved sleep may lead to less pain intensity and improved mood.

Article Provided By: foundationforPN

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

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What Is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome?

What Is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome?

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 16, 2020

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD) is a disorder that causes lasting pain, usually in an arm or leg, and it shows up after an injury, stroke, or even heart attack. But the severity of pain is typically worse than the original injury itself. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes it, but they are able to treat many cases.The term reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome is actually not a name that doctors use anymore. It’s an older term used to describe one form of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). RSD is sometimes called Type I CRPS, and it’s caused by injury to tissue with no related nerve damage.

What Causes RSD?

Doctors think the pain caused by RSD comes from problems in your sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system controls blood flow movements that help regulate your heart rate and blood pressure.

When you get hurt, your sympathetic nervous system tells your blood vessels to get smaller so you don’t lose too much blood at your injury site. Later, it tells them to open back up so blood can get to damaged tissue and repair it.

When you have RSD, your sympathetic nervous system gets mixed signals. It turns on after an injury, but doesn’t turn back off. This causes a lot of pain and swelling at your injury site.Sometimes, you can get RSD even if you haven’t had an injury, although it’s not as common.

Symptoms

When you get RSD, your symptoms may show up slowly. You may have pain first, and then it may get worse over time. You may not realize your pain is abnormal at first.

The types of injuries that can cause RSD include:

  • Amputation
  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Fractures
  • Minor surgery
  • Needle sticks
  • Radiation therapy
  • Sprains

It’s most common to get RSD in your arm, shoulder, leg, or hip. Usually the pain spreads beyond your injury site. In some cases, symptoms can spread to other parts of your body, too.

  • Redness
  • Skin that’s warm to the touch around the injury
  • Swelling

The pain you get with RSD is usually constant and severe. Many people describe RSD pain as:

  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Cold
  • Deep
  • Throbbing

Your skin may also feel sensitive when you do things that don’t normally hurt it, like taking a shower. Or it might hurt just to wear your clothes.

Other symptoms of RSD include:

  • Changes in your hair or nail growth, or skin’s texture
  • Excess sweat in certain areas of your body
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Stiff joints
  • Trouble moving the injured area
  • White, mottled, red, or blue skin

Diagnosis

Often, doctors don’t know your pain is being caused by RSD until you’ve had it for some time. When pain doesn’t go away, or is more severe than it should be for your type of injury, it can be the first clue that it could be RSD.

Bone scan. This test can detect if any of your bones are wearing away at the ends or whether there are issues with regular blood flow.

MRI. Your doctor might order an MRI to look inside your body, specifically at your tissues, for noticeable changes.

Sweat test. This test can tell your doctor if you sweat more on one side of your body than the other.

Thermography test. This sympathetic nervous system test checks to see if the temperature or blood flow is different at your injury site than in other parts of your body.

X-rays. These are typically ordered if your syndrome is in later stages to look for mineral loss in your bones.

Treatment

Early detection is key in RSD treatment. The earlier you’re able to catch it, the better your treatment will work. Some cases of RSD don’t respond to treatment. RSD doesn’t have a cure, but it’s possible to recover from many of the symptoms.

  • Anesthetic creams like lidocaine
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs, called NSAIDs
  • Anti-seizure medications that may help treat pain
  • Nasal spray that treats bone loss
  • Nerve blocking injections
  • Over-the-counter options like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen for pain

Other ways to treat symptoms include:

  • Electrodes on your spinal cord that send small electric shocks to relieve pain
  • Physical therapy to help you move around more easily and take away pain
  • Psychotherapy that can teach you relaxation methods
  • Splints to help with hand pain

 

 

Article Provided By: webmd
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

 

 

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Hyperalgesia: What you need to know

Hyperalgesia: What you need to know

Hyperalgesia is a condition where a person develops an increased sensitivity to pain. What may not hurt most people can cause significant pain in an individual with hyperalgesia.

Although there are many potential causes associated with hyperalgesia, the condition is thought to be the result of changes to nerve pathways, which cause a person’s nerves to have an overactive response to pain.

Medications are available to prevent a person’s symptoms from worsening.

Fast facts on hyperalgesia:

  • Hyperalgesia can be very difficult for a doctor to diagnose.
  • Different types of hyperalgesia exist, and doctors have a variety of theories regarding why people experience hyperalgesia.
  • Researchers are also studying a potential genetic link to hyperalgesia
  • The condition closely resembles both drug tolerance and drug withdrawals.
Causes
Hyperalgesia is an extreme reaction to painful stimuli.

There are several nerve or “pain” pathways in the body where signals can start to miscommunicate with each other, resulting in hyperalgesia.

Some scientists think that hyperalgesia occurs when chemicals known to reduce pain are disrupted.

Others propose that hyperalgesia happens when “crossed wires” in the nervous system prevent pain signals from transmitting accurately.

Nociceptive and neuropathic pain

Nociceptive and neuropathic are two different types of pain. Nociceptive pain is acute and it usually has a specific cause, such as an injury.

Neuropathic pain results from damage to the nervous system. It can happen even when there is no injury or outside stimulus.

Hyperalgesia is considered a form of neuropathic pain.

Types

Doctors usually divide hyperalgesia into primary and secondary categories. Both of these conditions are due to initial tissue trauma and inflammation.

Primary hyperalgesia

This type of hyperalgesia is when the increased pain occurs in the tissue where the injury took place. An example would be when a person has surgery on their elbow, and the pain starts to worsen over time instead of improving.

Secondary hyperalgesia

This type occurs when the pain seems to spread to non-injured tissue or tissues.

Other types of hyperalgesia

Another kind of hyperalgesia is opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). OIH occurs when a person experiences worsening or new pain as a result of taking opioids, such as morphine, hydrocodone, or fentanyl for pain relief.

Symptoms

The chief symptom of hyperalgesia is an increasingly extreme reaction to painful stimuli without any new injuries or worsening of a medical condition. An example would be a surgical incision that becomes more painful over time, yet the wound is not infected, and a person has not experienced any further injury.

Hyperalgesia is different from tolerance to medications although the two processes are similar.

If a person develops a tolerance to a particular drug, it usually means that their body has become accustomed to the presence of the drug at the current dosage, and the drug is no longer working properly. When a person has developed a tolerance to a drug, increasing the dosage will usually decrease a person’s pain.

Drug tolerance is different from hyperalgesia, where increasing pain medication will not reduce the amount of pain a person feels. Sometimes, increasing the pain medication makes the person’s pain worse.

Another similar medical condition is allodynia. This condition is where a person develops a significant pain response to non-painful stimuli. Even brushing against a person’s skin can cause pain.

In hyperalgesia, a person has experienced a painful stimulus, such as cancer pain or pain following surgery, but their response to the pain is greater than the expected level of pain.

How do doctors diagnose hyperalgesia?

doctor checking notes on a tablet
Diagnosing hyperalgesia may be difficult for a doctor.

Hyperalgesia can present difficulties for a doctor to treat because a person may have developed OIH.

To make a diagnosis, a doctor will take a medical history and review a person’s medication.

They may also ask them questions about the nature of their pain.

Some of the signs that could indicate hyperalgesia include:

  • Pain extends beyond the area where a person experienced an initial injury or previously felt pain. Examples could include headaches, neck pain, leg pain, or back pain.
  • Some people describe the pain as “diffuse” or spreading. Some may report all-over body pain and aches.
  • The quality or experience of the pain is different than it used to be. The pain may become sharp, aching, or stabbing where previously the person felt the pain differently.

Currently, there are no definitive diagnostic tests for hyperalgesia.

Article Provided By: medicalnewstoday

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

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Does Neuropathy from Chemo Go Away?

Does Neuropathy from Chemo Go Away?

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a blanket term for pain and discomfort and other symptoms that result from damage to peripheral nerves, which are the nerves that extend away from the brain and spinal cord.

The peripheral nervous system carries signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body, and then returns nerve signals from the periphery to be received by the spinal cord and brain. Any problems along the way can affect the skin, muscles, and joints of your hands, feet, and other parts of the body.

Many things can cause neuropathy, including certain chemotherapy drugs. Damage to peripheral nerves by these drugs is called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, abbreviated as CIPN.

CIPN isn’t uncommon. Of people with cancer who are treated with chemotherapy, about 30 to 40 percent develop CIPN. It’s one of the reasons that some stop cancer treatment early.

What are the symptoms of CIPN?

CIPN generally affects both sides of your body the same way. Symptoms are likely to begin in your toes but can move to your feet, legs, hands, and arms. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Some of the more common symptoms are:

  • tingling or pins-and-needles sensation
  • sharp, stabbing pain
  • burning or shock-like sensations
  • loss of sensation or complete numbness
  • trouble with small motor skills such as writing, texting, and buttoning
  • gripping problems (dropping things)
  • clumsiness
  • weakness

You might also experience:

  • oversensitivity to touch
  • balance and coordination problems, which can lead to stumbling or falling when walking
  • differences in your sensitivity to temperature, making it harder to gauge heat and cold
  • reduced reflexes
  • swallowing difficulties
  • jaw pain
  • hearing loss
  • constipation
  • trouble urinating

Severe peripheral neuropathy can lead to serious health problems such as:

  • changes to blood pressure
  • changes to heart rate
  • breathing difficulties
  • injury due to falling
  • paralysis
  • organ failure
What causes CIPN?

Chemotherapy drugs are systemic treatments — that is, they affect your entire body. These powerful medications can take a toll, and some can damage your peripheral nervous system.

It’s hard to say exactly what causes CIPN since each chemotherapy drug is different, as is each person who receives treatment.

Some of the chemotherapy drugs associated with CIPN are:

  • nanoparticle albumin bound-paclitaxel (Abraxane)
  • bortezomib (Velcade)
  • cabazitaxel (Jevtana)
  • carboplatin (Paraplatin)
  • carfilzomib (Kyprolis)
  • cisplatin (Platinol)
  • docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • eribulin (Halaven)
  • etoposide (VP-16)
  • ixabepilone (Ixempra)
  • lenalidomide (Revlimid)
  • oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
  • paclitaxel (Taxol)
  • pomalidomide (Pomalyst)
  • thalidomide (Thalomid)
  • vinblastine (Velban)
  • vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar PFS)
  • vinorelbine (Navelbine)

Besides chemotherapy, peripheral neuropathy can be due to the cancer itself, such as when a tumor presses on a peripheral nerve.

Other cancer treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy can also lead to peripheral neuropathy. Even if you’re receiving chemotherapy, the neuropathy can be caused or aggravated by other conditions such as:

  • alcohol use disorder
  • autoimmune disorders
  • diabetes mellitus
  • HIV
  • infections that lead to nerve damage
  • poor peripheral blood circulation
  • shingles
  • spinal cord injury
  • vitamin B deficiency
How long does it last?

Symptoms can appear as soon as chemotherapy begins. Symptoms tend to get worse as the chemotherapy regimen progresses.

It’s a temporary problem for some, lasting only a few days or weeks.

For others, it can last for months or years and can even become a lifelong problem. This may be more likely if you have other medical conditions that cause neuropathy or take other prescription drugs that cause it.

How is CIPN treated?

Once your oncologist (a doctor who specializes in cancer treatment) determines that your peripheral neuropathy is caused by chemotherapy, they will monitor your treatment to see if symptoms are worsening. In the meantime, symptoms can be treated with:

  • steroids to reduce inflammation
  • topical numbing medicines
  • antiseizure medications, which can help relieve nerve pain
  • prescription-strength pain relievers such as narcotics (opioids)
  • antidepressants
  • electrical nerve stimulation
  • occupational and physical therapy

If symptoms continue, your doctor may decide to:

  • lower the dose of your chemotherapy drug
  • switch to a different chemotherapy drug
  • delay chemotherapy until symptoms improve
  • stop chemotherapy
Managing symptoms

It’s very important to work with your doctor to prevent neuropathy from getting worse. In addition, there are a few other things you can do, such as:

  • relaxation therapy, guided imagery, or breathing exercises
  • massage therapy
  • acupuncture
  • biofeedback

Pain, numbness, or strange sensations can make it difficult to work with your hands, so you should be extra careful with sharp objects. Wear gloves for yardwork or when working with tools.

If symptoms involve your feet or legs, walk slowly and carefully. Use handrails and grab bars when available and put no-slip mats in your shower or tub. Remove loose area rugs, electrical cords, and other tripping hazards in your home.

Wear shoes indoors and out to protect your feet. And if you have severe numbness in your feet, be sure to inspect them every day for cuts, injuries, and infection that you can’t feel.

Temperature sensitivity can also be a problem.

Make sure your water heater is set to a safe level, and check the temperature of the water before getting in the shower or bath.

Check the air temperature before going outside in winter. Even though you might not feel the cold, gloves and warm socks can help protect your feet and hands from frostbite.

If you find it helps to relieve your peripheral neuropathy symptoms, you can apply an ice pack on your hands or feet, but only for less than 10 minutes at a time with at least 10 minutes of breaktime between each repeat application.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Don’t wear tight clothes or shoes that interfere with circulation.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Take all your medications as directed.
  • Get plenty of rest while in treatment.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations for diet and exercise.
  • Keep your oncologist informed about new or worsening symptoms.

Currently, there’s no scientifically proven way to prevent neuropathy caused by chemotherapy. And there’s no way to know in advance who’ll develop it and who won’t.

Some research, such as this 2015 studyTrusted Source and this 2017 studyTrusted Source, suggests that taking glutathione, calcium, magnesium, or certain antidepressant or antiseizure drugs might help mitigate the risk for certain people. However, the research is limited, weak, or shows mixed results at best.

Before starting chemotherapy, tell your oncologist about other health conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, that could lead to peripheral neuropathy. This can help them choose the best chemotherapy drug for you.

Your oncologist may try to lessen the risk by prescribing lower doses of chemotherapy drugs over a longer period of time. If symptoms start, it may be appropriate to stop chemotherapy and restart when symptoms improve. It’s something that must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

While mild symptoms may resolve within a short time frame, more severe cases can linger for months or years. It can even become permanent. That’s why it’s so important to keep your oncologist informed about all your symptoms and side effects.

Addressing CIPN early may help ease symptoms and prevent it from getting worse.

Last medically reviewed on January 24, 2019

 

Article Provided By: healthline
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

 

 

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Sciatica

Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body.

Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.

Although the pain associated with sciatica can be severe, most cases resolve with non-operative treatments in a few weeks. People who have severe sciatica that’s associated with significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes might be candidates for surgery.

Symptoms

Pain that radiates from your lower (lumbar) spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg is the hallmark of sciatica. You might feel the discomfort almost anywhere along the nerve pathway, but it’s especially likely to follow a path from your low back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf.

The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating pain. Sometimes it can feel like a jolt or electric shock. It can be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting can aggravate symptoms. Usually only one side of your body is affected.

Some people also have numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. You might have pain in one part of your leg and numbness in another part.

When to see a doctor

Mild sciatica usually goes away over time. Call your doctor if self-care measures fail to ease your symptoms or if your pain lasts longer than a week, is severe or becomes progressively worse. Get immediate medical care if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your low back or leg and numbness or muscle weakness in your leg
  • The pain follows a violent injury, such as a traffic accident
  • You have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder

Causes

Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, usually by a herniated disk in your spine or by an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) on your vertebrae. More rarely, the nerve can be compressed by a tumor or damaged by a disease such as diabetes.

Risk factors

Risk factors for sciatica include:

  • Age. Age-related changes in the spine, such as herniated disks and bone spurs, are the most common causes of sciatica.
  • Obesity. By increasing the stress on your spine, excess body weight can contribute to the spinal changes that trigger sciatica.
  • Occupation. A job that requires you to twist your back, carry heavy loads or drive a motor vehicle for long periods might play a role in sciatica, but there’s no conclusive evidence of this link.
  • Prolonged sitting. People who sit for prolonged periods or have a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop sciatica than active people are.
  • Diabetes. This condition, which affects the way your body uses blood sugar, increases your risk of nerve damage.

Complications

Although most people recover fully from sciatica, often without treatment, sciatica can potentially cause permanent nerve damage. Seek immediate medical attention if you have:

  • Loss of feeling in the affected leg
  • Weakness in the affected leg
  • Loss of bowel or bladder function

Prevention

It’s not always possible to prevent sciatica, and the condition may recur. The following can play a key role in protecting your back:

  • Exercise regularly. To keep your back strong, pay special attention to your core muscles — the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that are essential for proper posture and alignment. Ask your doctor to recommend specific activities.
  • Maintain proper posture when you sit. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level.
  • Use good body mechanics. If you stand for long periods, rest one foot on a stool or small box from time to time. When you lift something heavy, let your lower extremities do the work. Move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. Find a lifting partner if the object is heavy or awkward.

 

Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor may check your muscle strength and reflexes. For example, you may be asked to walk on your toes or heels, rise from a squatting position and, while lying on your back, lift your legs one at a time. Pain that results from sciatica will usually worsen during these activities.

Imaging tests

Many people have herniated disks or bone spurs that will show up on X-rays and other imaging tests but have no symptoms. So doctors don’t typically order these tests unless your pain is severe, or it doesn’t improve within a few weeks.

  • X-ray. An X-ray of your spine may reveal an overgrowth of bone (bone spur) that may be pressing on a nerve.
  • MRI. This procedure uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to produce cross-sectional images of your back. An MRI produces detailed images of bone and soft tissues such as herniated disks. During the test, you lie on a table that moves into the MRI machine.
  • CT scan. When a CT is used to image the spine, you may have a contrast dye injected into your spinal canal before the X-rays are taken — a procedure called a CT myelogram. The dye then circulates around your spinal cord and spinal nerves, which appear white on the scan.
  • Electromyography (EMG). This test measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. This test can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).
  • Treatment

If your pain doesn’t improve with self-care measures, your doctor might suggest some of the following treatments.

Medications

The types of drugs that might be prescribed for sciatica pain include:

  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Narcotics
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure medications

Physical therapy

Once your acute pain improves, your doctor or a physical therapist can design a rehabilitation program to help you prevent future injuries. This typically includes exercises to correct your posture, strengthen the muscles supporting your back and improve your flexibility.

Steroid injections

In some cases, your doctor might recommend injection of a corticosteroid medication into the area around the involved nerve root. Corticosteroids help reduce pain by suppressing inflammation around the irritated nerve. The effects usually wear off in a few months. The number of steroid injections you can receive is limited because the risk of serious side effects increases when the injections occur too frequently.

Surgery

This option is usually reserved for when the compressed nerve causes significant weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or when you have pain that progressively worsens or doesn’t improve with other therapies. Surgeons can remove the bone spur or the portion of the herniated disk that’s pressing on the pinched nerve.

 

Lifestyle and home remedies

For most people, sciatica responds to self-care measures. Although resting for a day or so may provide some relief, prolonged inactivity will make your signs and symptoms worse.

Other self-care treatments that might help include:

  • Cold packs. Initially, you might get relief from a cold pack placed on the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Use an ice pack or a package of frozen peas wrapped in a clean towel.
  • Hot packs. After two to three days, apply heat to the areas that hurt. Use hot packs, a heat lamp or a heating pad on the lowest setting. If you continue to have pain, try alternating warm and cold packs.
  • Stretching. Stretching exercises for your low back can help you feel better and might help relieve nerve root compression. Avoid jerking, bouncing or twisting during the stretch, and try to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • Over-the-counter medications. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) are sometimes helpful for sciatica.

Alternative medicine

Alternative therapies commonly used for low back pain include:

  • Acupuncture. In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts hair-thin needles into your skin at specific points on your body. Some studies have suggested that acupuncture can help back pain, while others have found no benefit. If you decide to try acupuncture, choose a licensed practitioner to ensure that he or she has had extensive training.
  • Chiropractic. Spinal adjustment (manipulation) is one form of therapy chiropractors use to treat restricted spinal mobility. The goal is to restore spinal movement and, as a result, improve function and decrease pain. Spinal manipulation appears to be as effective and safe as standard treatments for low back pain, but might not be appropriate for radiating pain.

Article Provided By: mayoclinic
Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SCIf you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com

 

 

 

 

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