01st April 2023
Idiopathic Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms, and TreatmentsDr. Devan Patel, PharmD
Idiopathic neuropathy is a chronic condition of the nerves, usually affecting hands and feet, that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including physical pain and limitations.
While there is no cure for idiopathic neuropathy, it’s important to understand its signs and symptoms to seek appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and management techniques.
This article provides an overview of the causes, symptoms, and treatments available for idiopathic neuropathy.
What is Idiopathic Neuropathy?
Idiopathic neuropathy (or peripheral neuropathy) is a term used to describe neuropathy that has no discernible cause. The nerve disorder affects part of your body’s peripheral nervous system — the network of connecting nerves outside the brain connected to your central nervous system.
Idiopathic neuropathy symptoms vary depending on which nerve or nerves are affected.
Causes of Idiopathic Neuropathy
Although “idiopathic” refers to something that happens without an identifiable cause, there are certain risk factors associated with idiopathic neuropathy such as advancing age, diabetes mellitus, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, prior trauma or injury in the affected area, alcohol abuse, or excessive vitamin B6 levels over a long period of time.
Additionally, exposures to certain toxins like lead may also increase one’s chances of developing this condition.
Symptoms of Idiopathic Neuropathy
The most common symptom associated with idiopathic neuropathy is pain which ranges from burning sensations (especially in the legs and feet) to shooting pain.
Pain symptoms generally subside within a few months after onset but remain chronic in some cases.
Other symptoms of idiopathic neuropathy include changes in temperature perception, including diminished ability to sense both hot and cold.
Change in muscle control leading to reduced muscle strength may also be experienced.
Numbness may sometimes be present where you don't feel any sensation at all when pressure is applied to your skin at various points throughout your body.
Finally, balance problems may arise due to a lack of proprioception or recognition of one's body position relative to its environment which sometimes leads to falls or loss of coordination.
Treatments for Idiopathic Neuropathy
Your doctor will likely suggest lifestyle changes as part of your treatment plan for idiopathic neuropathy. Some of these lifestyle factors may include controlling diabetes (if diagnosed), quitting smoking, reducing stress, participating in regular exercise, eating healthy foods, and managing alcohol consumption.
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are several pharmaceutical therapies used for treating specific types of idiopathic neuropathy, such as those directly affecting muscles.
Oral prescription medications including anticonvulsants like gabapentin help reduce inflammation related to neurological pain. Antidepressant medications, like amitriptyline, also help relieve pain, though the exact mechanism for how they work is unknown.
Similarly, topical applications containing capsaicin among other components serve as analgesics while steroid, opioid, and anesthetic injections in affected body parts relieve pain by blocking pain receptors.
Neuropathy can lead to pain, numbness, and tingling in your feet and hands, as well as other parts of your body. It can also cause muscle weakness, balance problems, and difficulty walking.
Physical therapy for neuropathy includes exercises that target the affected area. These exercises can help improve flexibility and strength, as well as reduce pain and inflammation.
Your physical therapist may also use manual therapy techniques such as massage or joint mobilization to help relieve your pain.
Alternative Treatments for Idiopathic Neuropathy
Some of these alternative treatments include:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. This is believed to help promote healing and reduce pain. Studies have shown that acupuncture may be effective in reducing symptoms associated with idiopathic neuropathy, such as numbness, tingling, and burning sensations.
- Massage Therapy: Massage therapy is another form of alternative treatment that may be beneficial for people with idiopathic neuropathy. Massage can help reduce inflammation and pain, as well as improve circulation. It can also help relax muscles and improve joint mobility.
- Dietary Supplements: Nerve damage can be caused by a lack of essential nutrients. Certain vitamins and minerals are necessary for nerve cells to function properly.* Dietary supplements, like NeuraZenx, help support nerve health by providing your body with the right amount of nutrients it needs.*
What is the Outlook for Idiopathic Neuropathy?
The long-term outlook for those diagnosed with idiopathic neuropathy is generally good. While there is no cure for neuropathy, there are many treatment options available to manage neuropathy symptoms.
Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan that works for you and your needs. You may consider using a variety of treatment options including alternative options, like supplements or massage therapy.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.