Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- It’s important to see a healthcare provider to get a diagnosis and discuss a treatment plan.
- Chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is typically treated with a combination of medication, different therapies like physical or occupational therapy, and lifestyle changes. In some cases, orthopedic splints or braces can also help.
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When to see a healthcare provider
See a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. The condition can have a major impact on your quality of life and may stop you from maintaining good hygiene, caring for loved ones, or attending work or school.
Your primary care provider or neurologist will diagnose the condition based on your medical history and a detailed neurologic exam that checks your reflexes, muscle strength, and ability to feel sensations.
They will likely do additional tests to identify possible causes of your neuropathy. These include blood tests, imaging tests (CT scan, MRI), EMG and nerve conduction studies, and nerve or skin biopsies.
What to expect from your doctor visit
- Your doctor may prescribe anti-seizure medications, like gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica), which help relieve nerve pain. It’s believed that they work by blocking the transmission of pain signals sent from damaged nerves.
- Another option are antidepressants, which relieve pain by interfering with chemical processes that cause you to feel pain. These include tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
- If you have severe symptoms, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers containing opioids, like tramadol (Ultram) or oxycodone (OxyContin). These can lead to dependence and addiction, so they usually aren’t recommended unless other treatments have failed.
- Physical therapy may be recommended if you have muscle weakness.
- Anti-seizure medications: gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica)
- Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin (Silenor), nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- SNRIs: duloxetine (Cymbalta), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
- Opioids: tramadol (Ultram), oxycodone (OxyContin)
Types of providers for chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy
- Your primary care provider can assist with diagnosing chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.
- A neurologist, who treats disorders of the brain and nervous system, can help diagnose the condition and discuss additional treatment options.
Managing chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy at home
Always see a healthcare provider—either your primary care provider or a neurologist—to get a diagnosis of chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, pain, and pins-and-needles in the hands or feet.
But there are some ways to treat the symptoms at home.
- To manage pain, try taking OTC medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Applying a topical medication, like capsaicin or lidocaine, to painful areas can give you some temporary relief.
- Regular exercise can help lessen the pain of neuropathy and reduce stress.
- If you’re having trouble walking or staying balanced, your doctor may recommend orthopedic devices, like therapeutic shoes, a cane, or braces.
- Practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing and meditation, which can help you better cope with pain. Other techniques like yoga can also relieve discomfort by improving your posture.
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Lidocaine patches
Wellness and prevention
- Avoid alcohol. It can worsen symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
- Quit smoking. Smoking damages the peripheral blood vessels.
- Join a neuropathy support group. Talking to other people who have your condition may relieve stress and anxiety and make you feel less alone.