What is The Treatment and Prognosis for Neuropathy?
How is neuropathy treated?
Neuropathy is a disease of varied causes. Most of the time, neuropathy can be treated if it is detected early. However, advanced neuropathy and hereditary neuropathy may be very difficult to control. The treatment of neuropathy follows a 2 pronged approach; symptomatic and therapeutic.
Symptomatic treatment for neuropathy
Symptomatic treatment of neuropathy means that treatment is aimed at relieving the unpleasant ‘extra sensations’ of neuropathy, such as pain and tingling. Symptomatic treatment does not help cure neuropathy, and symptomatic treatment cannot help bring back the loss of sensation nor does it help regain strength.
Usually, symptomatic treatment consists of prescription medications that are taken by mouth on a regimented schedule. The medications for the symptomatic treatment of neuropathy are usually short acting, lasting for anywhere between 1-8 hours. The most common symptomatic treatments that are used for neuropathy include pain relievers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications. Anti-depressant and anti-seizure medications are not necessarily formally approved for the treatment of neuropathy, but they are often prescribed for symptomatic relief of peripheral neuropathy because they have been found to diminish the painful symptoms of neuropathy, even in individuals who do not have depression or seizures.
A doctor who is familiar with the dosing and side effects of these ‘off label’ uses usually prescribe these medications for treatment of neuropathy. Often, the oral medications used for symptomatic relief of neuropathy cause side effects such as drowsiness, trouble concentrating, and dizziness. Many patients with neuropathy experience relief of symptoms from the prescription medications for months or years.
Most patients with neuropathy need increases in the dose of these medications after a while, often resulting in an increase in side effects. This is one of the biggest challenges in the symptomatic treatment of neuropathy.
For patients who cannot tolerate pills, there are creams that can help control the pain of peripheral neuropathy. Some patients report that the pain control creams are effective while others report minimal improvement with the creams. A pain control patch containing capsaicin, a product made from chili peppers, and lidocaine, an anesthetic, was found to provide about 30% reduction in pain and was well tolerated in clinical trials.
Next: Therapeutic Treatment and Prognosis for Neuropathy