Idiopathic neuropathy has similar symptoms to diabetic neuropathy. However, the word idiopathic means that there is no known cause. The sensory nerves can be affected, causing burning, numbness and tingling. Also, the motor nerves may be involved causing weakness oftentimes presenting as drop foot. The autonomic nervous system may also be affected causing cold feet that may look discolored. The symptoms generally are in the feet but may extend up to leg as far as the knee. Both legs and feet can be involved but for others it may only present on one foot or leg. Idiopathic peripheral neuropathy also is more prevalent in the senior population.
How is it diagnosed?
The symptoms that you communicate to your doctor helps the doctor diagnosis this condition. There may be other medical conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism, or cancer treatments that can all cause nerve damage. When these other factors have been eliminated as a cause then you may be told you have idopathic neuropathy. Evaluation and testing may include EMG and nerve conduction studies. Others may also take a biopsy of the skin to measure how many nerve endings under the skin or dying. This is called nerve density testing.
Treatments for Idiopathic neuropathy
Traditionally treatments have involved the following
- Medications– anticonvulsants drugs such as Gabapentin and Neurontin are frequently used. They do nothing to improve the conditions of the nerves but can help with the symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes– avoiding carbohydrates and sugars may help along with getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep. Special shoes, or walking aids such as a can may also be suggested.
- Physical therapy– If weakness or numbness is present physical therapy may be helpful to decrease themchance of a fall.
Risks to your general health- When the symptoms become more severe the lack of feeling, pain and weakness can have a negative effect on your mobility. This reduction of activity can lead to weight gain and less physical fitness. In the senior population the risk of a fall and a broken hip may also increase.
How idiopathic peripheral neuropathy may be reversible?
In general, many healthcare providers are poorly trained in the treatment and evaluation of the peripheral nervous system. As a board-certified peripheral nerve surgeon we look at the nerves in the foot and leg differently. For many there may be compression of nerve tunnels in the foot or leg, much like carpel tunnel syndrome in the hand that can allow us to open, decompress, these tight nerve tunnels.
Therefore, what was once thought to be idiopathic neuropathy (of unknown cause), could be nerve compression. This provides hope for many, listen to Judy’s path to relief as she was afflicted with debilitating nerve pain.
Conservative treatment options for idiopathic peripheral neuropathy
It’s important if you suffer from idiopathic neuropathy to learn more about this new way of looking at your nervous system and decide for yourself.
Neuropathy symptoms of weakness and numbness gone with ESTIM. Listen to Leslie’s story !
Dr. James Anderson is a board certified surgeon with various publications on nerve compression. When considering a local podiatrist near you, review our results from patients and how our state of the art surgical center in Fort Collins, Colorado provides multiple benefits.
Please consider visiting the AENS website to look for a doctor in your area.
It’s important that you see a doctor trained in peripheral nerve surgery.