Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you may be getting injured. For example, if you touch a hot stove, pain signals let you know to move your hand away very quickly, so that you don’t get burned. This pain signal is sent to your brain by your nerves, which also let you feel temperature, touch, position, and pressure.
There are many diagnoses that can cause damage to your nerves directly, a condition called neuropathy:
• Auto-immune syndromes
• Endocrine diseases
• Guillain-Barre syndrome
• Heavy alcohol use
• Hereditary diseases
• Infections (ex. shingles or Lyme disease)
• Kidney disease
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Thyroid problems
• Repetitive stress (ex. carpal tunnel syndrome)
• Tumors or cancer
Neuropathy can cause you to feel pain even when you are not being injured. This is called neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is often associated with:
• Burning, needle-like, stabbing, or tingling pain
• Feeling severe pain from things that normally don’t cause pain, such as laying under light bed sheets, wearing clothes, or a gentle touch
• Feeling worse at night
• Disruption of sleep
• Significant emotional burden
The nerves throughout your body, outside of your brain and spinal cord, are called peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves have the ability to regenerate, which reduces damage and pain. This means that there are things that you can do on your own to improve neuropathic pain, by helping your body to regenerate the nerves:
• Obtain treatment for the underlying condition
• Strictly control blood glucose levels in the case of diabetic neuropathy
• Limit or avoid alcohol
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Eat a balanced diet, including all essential vitamins and minerals
• Exercise to reduce cramps, improve muscle strength, and prevent muscle wasting
• Stop smoking: Smoking constricts blood flow to nerves and can worsen neuropathic pain
• Treat injuries and wounds quickly and carefully
• Mild pain may sometimes be alleviated by over-the-counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ex. Advil or Aleve)
• Use orthopedic shoes or braces
In some cases, neuropathic pain may be very severe or difficult to manage, even with treatment of the underlying condition and lifestyle changes. These are the cases in which the Neurological experts at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions can help.
There are several classes of medications that may be prescribed for neuropathic pain, which have been shown to provide relief:
• Topical creams
The doctors at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions may refer you to pain management physicians to discuss complementary treatments that may provide additional support and pain relief:
• Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
• Nerve blocks
• Spinal Cord Stimulator
If you suffer from neuropathy, you are not alone. It is a common condition, with more than 20 million cases nationwide. The experts at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions are here to help!
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) does not define you… Your strength and courage does!
What is multiple sclerosis (MS)?
An active immune system is important for staying well and living daily life. However, in a group of diseases called ‘autoimmune’ or ‘immune-mediated’ diseases, cells in the immune system become overactive, and can attack tissues in the body, rather than bacteria or viruses causing an infection. Multiple sclerosis is one of the ‘immune-mediated’ types of diseases.
How does multiple sclerosis work?
In multiple sclerosis, or MS, the immune cells attack the central nervous system, which is made up of
- • the brain,
- • the spinal cord, which connects the brain to the rest of the body and allows for sensation and movement, and
- • the optic nerves, which connect the eyes to the brain and allow for vision.
Specifically, the immune system damages nerve fibers. When the nerve fibers and myelin are injured, the signals moving through the central nervous system can become slow, disordered, or blocked completely.
What are the symptoms of MS?
Multiple sclerosis can cause a wide variety of symptoms. The types of symptoms, their course (whether they get better, worse, or stay the same over time), and their severity vary from one person to the next. These are some of the more common symptoms:
- • Fatigue
- • Weakness
- • Numbness or tingling
- • Pain
- • Stiffness with muscle spasms
- • Dizziness and vertigo
- • Trouble walking or loss of balance
- • Vision problems
- • Bowel, bladder, or sexual problems
- • Cognitive and emotional changes, including depression
How is MS diagnosed?
MS is known for being a disease that is difficult to diagnose. There isn’t one single test which proves whether or not someone has MS. Additionally, all other causes of symptoms must be ruled out before a neurologist can confidently diagnose MS. The patient’s medical history and certain tests can provide evidence of the disease, these include:
- • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- • Cerebrospinal fluid- a spinal tap is performed
How is MS treated?
The treatment of MS requires a comprehensive plan directed by a neurologist. Patients are unique in how they may respond to treatments, and the various aspects of the disease require distinct treatment approaches, including:
- • Slowing the course of the disease – For certain patients, there are medications called “disease modifying therapies” that may be used to slow the progression of the disease and help to reduce the occurrence of attacks.
- • Managing symptoms – Medications and physical rehabilitation plans depend on the place the nerve disruption is occurring and the organs affected.
- • Treating MS attacks – Severe attacks that affect a person’s safety or severely limit the ability to function in daily life may be treated with a course of high-dose corticosteroids.
- • Improving function – Rehabilitation can be an important part of maintaining or improving function, and may include physical therapy, occupational or cognitive rehabilitation, and therapy for speech or swallowing problems.
Whether you are having symptoms that could indicate MS, but have not been diagnosed, or you have been living with an MS diagnosis for many years, the doctors at Comprehensive Neurological Solutions are here to assist you on your MS journey. Our team is here for you and your family focusing on the symptoms to diagnosis to achieving the best possible quality of life.