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Neuropathy in Older Adults: Common Issues and Solutions

Neuropathy in Older Adults: Common Issues and Solutions

Did you know approximately between 5% and 7% of people aged 45 and over suffer from peripheral neuropathy?

This is a common condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, race or ethnicity, personal circumstances, and medical history; however, older adults are at higher risk for developing it because of age-related diseases.

Here’s a brief overview of peripheral neuropathy and its causes,  common issues older adults face due to peripheral neuropathy, and how they can be managed.

Peripheral Neuropathy: A Brief Overview

Peripheral neuropathy is a common medical condition that affects the peripheral nerves – nerves beyond the spinal cord and brain that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. The damage to peripheral nerves causes weakness, numbness, and pain, primarily in the hands and feet.

Peripheral neuropathy occurs due to various causes, including diabetes, chronic kidney disease, vitamin deficiencies, nerve trauma, infections, and exposure to toxins or alcohol.

Issues Faced by Older Adults

Peripheral neuropathy can significantly impact an older adult’s quality of life.

Numbness and Tingling

Numbness and tingling, often in the hands and feet, are common early signs of peripheral neuropathy. For older adults, this can lead to difficulties with balance and coordination, increasing the risk of falls and fall-related injuries.

Pain

Peripheral neuropathic pain, often described as burning, stabbing, or shooting, can be severe and debilitating. It can limit the mobility of an older adult and lead to sleep disturbances, impacting their overall well-being and making daily tasks challenging.

Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness can make it difficult for older adults to perform simple tasks like opening jars or climbing stairs. Over time, this can lead to decreased independence and increased reliance on caregivers.

Sensitivity to Touch

Some people with peripheral neuropathy find that even the lightest touch can cause pain. This can make everyday activities like dressing or bathing uncomfortable.

Loss of Coordination

Peripheral neuropathy can affect the nerves that control muscle movement, leading to a loss of coordination. This can make it difficult for seniors to perform tasks requiring fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt or writing. Loss of coordination also increases the risk of falls and injuries.

Digestive Problems

If peripheral neuropathy affects the autonomic nerves, it can lead to digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or incontinence. These issues can be embarrassing and may impact a senior’s social life.

Changes in Blood Pressure

Damage to the autonomic nerves can also lead to changes in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness. This can increase the risk of falls among older adults.

Solutions for Managing Peripheral Neuropathy in Older Adults

The management of peripheral neuropathy depends on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause of the condition. Typically, peripheral neuropathy symptoms in older adults are managed with:

Electrotherapy

Electrotherapy involves using low-voltage electrical currents to target damaged peripheral nerves and relieve pain. It’s thought to work by initiating nerve tissue healing and regeneration.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy

PRP therapy involves injecting the patient’s own platelets into the affected area to promote healing of the damaged nerves.

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy uses low-wavelength light to stimulate cellular repair and increase blood flow. Some studies have found it can reduce pain and improve sensation in people with peripheral neuropathy.

Supplements

Certain dietary supplements may help manage peripheral neuropathy. For instance, B vitamins are essential for nerve health, and deficiencies can exacerbate symptoms.

Dietary Changes

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall health and help manage peripheral neuropathy. Particularly, a diet low in sugar and processed foods is often recommended for those with diabetic neuropathy.

Lifestyle Changes

Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol and smoking can all help manage peripheral neuropathy symptoms. Exercise, in particular, can improve circulation, support nerve health, and help control blood sugar levels.

Neuropathy Treatment Center Near Me

Peripheral neuropathy is a frustrating condition, but it is manageable. At NIVA Health, we offer cutting-edge, non-surgical, non-drug therapeutic options to treat chronic pain, numbness, and tingling associated with peripheral neuropathy. The neuropathy program offered at our neuropathy treatment center is safer and painless with no downtime.

To learn more about our healthcare provider or our neuropathy treatment options, call us at your Local NIVA Health Office or request an appointment now. We look forward to serving you!

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