National Neuropathy Awareness Week is May 7-13
Pain. Numbness. Tingling. All symptoms that can be disconcerting, to say the least. But is it serious enough to necessitate surgery?
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are often similar to those of the more serious condition, radiculopathy. In fact, the two conditions are so closely associated that even medical professionals can misdiagnose which one is to blame. That can be a big challenge for patients, since solutions for neuropathy differ significantly from those of radiculopathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a more broad term. It’s a problem with the peripheral nerve function, or the end of the nerves that are found most often in the hands and feet. Patients with neuropathy will most often experience pain or tingling and sometimes numbness in the hands and feet.
On the other hand, radiculopathy is a problem at the root of the nerve, where it exits the spine. Though it has similar symptoms, radiculopathy is more serious and could require surgery to correct. It’s also likely to have other signs, including muscle weakness and pain in the back that spreads to other areas of the body. Radiculopathy can be challenging to identify, in part because people don’t expect a problem in their back to cause so much pain in the arm or leg. The more exaggerated pain in the limbs often send patients to non-back specialists, who might not know where to look for the source of the discomfort.
If the body’s nerves were compared to a rope, neuropathy would be frayed ends of a rope, while radiculopathy is more like a knot further up the rope that inhibits function.
While peripheral neuropathy is common among those with diabetes, and people undergoing cancer treatment, radiculopathy is usually a structural problem – the result of a herniated disc or bone spur.
The physical and mental distress resulting from neuropathy and radiculopathy can be acute. But an accurate diagnosis is essential, since the treatments are widely varied. If you suspect you might have neuropathy or radiculopathy, visit with your primary care physician or a back specialist to discuss your symptoms.
Arizona Brain & Spine Center – Specialists in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Scottsdale
We offer exceptional care and treatment options for a wide range of spinal and neurological disorders, which affect the brain, spine, nerves, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. If you are experiencing lower back pain, please give us a call to setup an appointment.