Neuropathy is a general term that refers to any disease or disorder that affects the peripheral nerves and it often causes pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in your hands and feet.
There are many different treatment options for neuropathy, but one common treatment is wearing gloves to help treat your pain.
In this article, we will discuss what neuropathy is, what causes it, and some of the best gloves for treating this condition while also providing you tips on how to prevent it if possible.
What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a general term for a range of conditions that cause damage to the nervous system and includes nerve damage in the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves.
Peripheral neuropathy is a type of neuropathy that affects your peripheral nerves, which are the nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.
There are 4 types of neuropathy and they are:
- Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves outside of your spinal cord and brain
- Autonomic neuropathy affects your autonomic functions such as your breathing, sweating, blood pressure, heart rate, and eyes among others
- Proximal neuropathy which is also called diabetic polyradiculopathy and predominantly affects your legs, buttocks, thighs, and hips
- Mononeuropathy which is also called focal neuropathy and only affects a single nerve
We will focus only on peripheral neuropathy as it is one of the most common forms and is the most likely to affect your hands and feet.
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What causes peripheral neuropathy?
The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes (diabetes mellitus) which is called diabetic neuropathy or diabetic peripheral neuropathy. However, it can be caused by other issues including:
- Trauma such as accidents or sports injuries
- Chemotherapy treatment
- Radiation treatment
- Inherited disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Vascular disorders such as blood clots or blood vessel disorders
- Certain medications including some anti-seizure medications or HIV medications
- Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Infections including Lyme disease, shingles, HIV, and herpes
- Toxic exposure to chemicals like lead and mercury
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Bone marrow disorders and bone cancer (myeloma)
- Other health problems including liver disease, kidney disease, and tumors
It is also possible to have neuropathy and your doctor can not find a cause for it too. If you believe you may have neuropathy please see your doctor or health care provider for a diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?
The symptoms of neuropathy will vary depending on the type of neuropathy you have but the most common neuropathic symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling in your extremities
- Chronic pain that can be a stabbing pain or throbbing pain
- The feeling like your hands or feet are wearing gloves or socks due to reduced sensations
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of balance or coordination which can cause you to fall and injure yourself
- Sensitivity to touch
If you have any of these symptoms please see your doctor or health care provider as soon as possible.
What are the treatment options for peripheral neuropathy?
There are a variety of medications that can help with neuropathy including antiseizure medications, topical creams using capsaicin or lidocaine, over-the-counter pain killers, opioids, and antidepressants.
Physical therapy can help with muscle weakness and pain. A physical therapist can also teach you exercises to improve your balance and coordination.
An occupational therapist can help you adjust to any changes in your daily living situation caused by neuropathy. They can also provide devices or tools to help you with everyday tasks such as dressing or cooking.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat neuropathy especially if it is caused by compressed nerves which can happen if you have a tumor, carpal tunnel syndrome, or a herniated disc.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
TENS is a treatment that uses electrical stimulation to relieve pain. A TENS machine sends electrical impulses through your skin to the nerve endings in your muscles.
Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin (IVIG)
Plasma exchange and IVIG are treatments that can help if you have neuropathy caused by an autoimmune disease. Plasma exchange removes harmful antibodies from your blood and replaces them with healthy plasma. IVIG is a treatment where you receive infusions of healthy antibodies.
If neuropathy has caused you to lose sensation in your extremities, you may need to use mechanical aids such as special shoes or gloves to help prevent injuries. Splints and braces can also be used to help your nerve pain too.
There are some alternative medicines that need more clinical trials and future studies to prove that they can help alleviate the symptoms of neuropathy and they include acupuncture, herbs such as primrose, massage, meditation, yoga, alpha-lipoic acid, and amino acids such as acetyl-L-carnitine. Please speak to your doctor before starting any new treatment.
Do compression gloves work for neuropathy?
Some studies have shown that compression gloves can help with the symptoms of neuropathy such as pain, numbness, and tingling as the compression from the gloves helps to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.
There are a variety of different compression gloves on the market so it is important to speak to your doctor or health care provider before purchasing any to make sure they are the right type of gloves for you.
What are the best gloves for peripheral neuropathy?
There is no single glove that is perfect for everyone with neuropathy as there are a variety of different types and causes of neuropathy.
The best gloves for you will depend on your individual symptoms and needs. Some gloves that may help with neuropathy include compression gloves, fingerless gloves, cold therapy gloves, and therapeutic gloves.
Examples of gloves used to treat neuropathy include the IMAK Compression Active Gloves, which also help with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions, and the NatraCure Cold Therapy Mittens, which are cold therapy gloves that contain ice packs and the frozen gloves are placed on your hands after being in the freezer.
Again, it is important to speak to your doctor or health care provider before purchasing any gloves as they can help you choose the best type of glove for you.
- HELP RELIEVE ACHES & PAINS. The IMAK Compression Active Gloves help encourage a healthy lifestyle by relieving aches, pains, and stiffness associated with hand pain and have received the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use commendation.
- HELP INCREASE CIRCULATION. The unique design of these arthritis gloves provides mild compression for warmth and helps increase blood circulation and promote healing.
- FULL FREEDOM. The Active Gloves are made of a soft, breathable cotton material and feature open fingertips and an anti-slip design through the use of grip dots that allow full freedom to feel, touch, and grip all day.
- RECOMMENDED USES. Use for pain associated with arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and joint swelling.
- EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES. These gloves are ideal for activities of daily living, including driving, gardening, crafts & hobbies, and office use.
- USES: Within seconds, chills fingers and entire hand to help relieve pain, swelling and chronic joint conditions like arthritis. Frequently used to relieve chemotherapy side effects.
- INCLUDES: Two insulated mittens with a soft Lycra lining and Four (4) inner gel cold packs to ensure long cold therapy treatments
- MORE MOBILITY: Unlike competing products with zero mobility, each mitt includes an articulated thumb and segmented gel pack gussets to help fingers bend more easily.
- SIZING: The Small/Medium and Large/XL mittens are similarly sized to standard winter mittens or gloves. If ever in doubt, choose the larger size.
- EASE OF USE: Wide, full-length opening allows for easy insertion and removal of gel packs. Easily adjust the fit with a convenient hook-and-loop fastener at the wrist.
Are there any ways to prevent neuropathy?
It is possible for neuropathic pain to be prevented in certain circumstances and the best ways to do this include:
- Monitoring your diabetes if you have it by making sure your blood glucose levels are in the target range
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Taking your prescription medications as prescribed by your doctor for any underlying conditions
- Checking for blisters, irritations, or sores on your feet daily
- Keeping your feet healthy by washing them every day with soap and warm and drying them thoroughly
- Wearing shoes that fit comfortably
- Wearing clean, dry socks every day and always wearing them with shoes
- Quitting smoking
- Finding alternatives to prescription medications you are taking that may cause neuropathy if possible
- Seeing your doctor for regular checkups and physical examinations
Some forms of neuropathy cannot be prevented, such as those caused by physical injury, infection, or inherited conditions.
However, if you are at risk for neuropathy or have already been diagnosed with it, taking these preventative measures may help to lessen your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that causes nerve pain, numbness, tingling, and other symptoms.
There are other types of neuropathy but peripheral neuropathy is the most common and can be caused by a variety of things such as diabetes, physical injury, infection, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, or an inherited condition among many others.
Various treatment options are available for neuropathy including medication, alternative medicine, and compression gloves which we list the benefits above. If you have any more questions regarding neuropathy or treatment options for it, please talk to your doctor or health care provider.
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