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John asked...

Years ago, I was diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy which has slowly moved up from my feet to part of my legs...

Years ago, I was diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy which has slowly moved up from my feet to part of my legs. There would appear to be no solution or follow up but it is effecting my balance. Any suggestions?

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The answer

Thank you for your question.

From your initial question, it is unclear what caused your initial Neuropathy to be diagnosed, therefore you may find the response generic in content.

As we are sure you are aware, Peripheral Neuropathy usually develops within the extremities (arms, hands & feet), when damage has occurred and depending on which nerves are affected can determine symptoms. This can be initially caused by an injury, an inherited disorder, systemic illness or an infection.

  • Pain associated with this diagnosis usually requires other types of medication rather than Paracetamol & Ibuprofen. If you have not already discussed this with your GP, it may be suggested to arrange an appointment.

The balance issues you describe are usually due to lack of sensation, muscle weakness, or both.

  • If you haven’t already had Physiotherapy to help improve muscle strength, your GP could refer you. Alternatively, if you are an AXA-PPP member, please contact our Personal Advisory Team to discuss if they can assist you with access to this service.
  • The Physiotherapist may suggest the use of Splints or other supportive appliances to help aid mobility.
  • They may also suggest walking aids which could improve your confidence whilst mobilizing.
  • Complimentary therapies may also improve symptoms, although evidence of this is not always clear, and whilst some individuals may find relief regarding these treatments, others may not. (Acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, Yoga, chiropractic care, meditation).
  • If you drink alcohol or smoke, it may be suggested to cut back or cease these activities, as they may aggravate nerve pain and usage over long periods can increase damage.
  • Participate in regular moderate exercise
  • If you drive, you must inform the DVLA that you have Peripheral Neuropathy

Due to reduced sensation in the areas affected, it may be an idea to look at the safety measures taken around the home to reduce further injury or accidents;

  • It may be suggested to always wear shoes in the home
  • Use bathmats to prevent slipping
  • Ensure there are adequate handrails, especially in the bathroom.
  • Always check the temperature of the bath or shower with your elbow (not your foot)
  • Keep areas within the home clear to prevent tripping.
  • Ensure you change position regularly, at least 2-3 times per hour, especially if you have a job which causes you to sit for long periods.

Before making any changes, or adding any supplements to your regime, please speak to your GP for advice, as they may interfere with your current symptom management.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses