Do you suffer from numbness, pain or weakness in the arms or legs? Do you experience neck or back pain with shooting pains extending into the arms or legs? Have you noticed loss of balance or difficulty with coordination? If so, you may be suffering from neuropathy, a variety of conditions involving inflammation or damage to the nerves of the body. These nerves send and receive messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. Neuropathy can affect a range of different nerves, so it can impact a variety of bodily functions and sensations. The various forms of neuropathy include peripheral neuropathy (damage or inflammation of the motor or sensory nerves extending into the arms and legs), radiculopathy (compressed nerves in the neck or back) or entrapment neuropathy (isolated pinched nerves in the arms or legs).
These conditions, once diagnosed, can be successfully treated thus preventing long-term pain or impairment.
Neuropathy can involve the motor nerves, that is the nerves allowing power and movement, sensory nerves or nerves controlling sensations of touch, pain or position sense or autonomic nerves, the nerves controlling heart rate, blood pressure and urinary or bowel functions. Symptoms of motor neuropathy include muscle weakness, twitching or cramping or difficulty performing fine movements such as buttoning clothing or writing. Sensory neuropathy can manifest with tingling, numbness or burning pain in the hands or feet in addition to loss of coordination and balance. Autonomic neuropathy may cause light headedness after standing, decreased sweating, constipation or difficulty urinating.
The various forms of neuropathy can be accurately diagnosed and treated by a neurologist with experience in this area. The evaluation for suspected neuropathy includes a thorough medical history including the history of exposure to possible toxic substances, the review of current and past medications, a detailed neurological examination, blood work, possible MRI scanning and EMG-nerve conduction studies.
Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure performed by Dr. Pappas to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them (motor neurons). Motor neurons transmit electrical signals that cause muscles to contract. During an EMG, a very thin needle electrode is inserted directly into a muscle, detecting electrical signals in the muscle. These signals are converted by the machine into graphs, sounds and numerical values that the neurologist interprets.
The nerve conduction study, another part of the EMG/ nerve conduction procedure, which is performed by our EMG technician, Tyler Johnson. In this procedure, electrodes are taped to the skin (surface electrodes) to measure the speed and strength of signals traveling between two or more points. This technique determines the type and location of possible nerve damage.
Once properly diagnosed, Dr. Pappas will explain how your condition may be effectively treated by eliminating causative factors, initiating lifestyle changes and by the careful use of medications or pain management procedures. There is no need to suffer needlessly from the pain, weakness and limitation associated with neuropathy!