The goals of neuropathy treatment are to prevent nerve damage when possible, slow its progression, maintain body function, and manage symptoms and complications. Nerves can regenerate in some cases, and symptoms may resolve or improve over time when neuropathy is due to a condition that can be treated, such as a vitamin B deficiency. Treatment will depend on and is directed against any known cause of the neuropathy.
Most cases of neuropathy are not curable and the damage done is frequently permanent. To minimize further damage, it is important to:
- Control underlying conditions, such as maintaining good glucose control in patients with diabetes and reducing the inflammation associated with autoimmune disorders
- Limit smoking and alcohol consumption
- Avoid exposure to toxins
- Avoid immobility and pressure on nerves
- Protect tissues that have decreased sensation, such as comfortable socks and shoes for the feet
- Monitor affected areas frequently, and promptly address problems such as reddened skin and sores that may worsen and become infected
Several classes of medications are used to help alleviate neuropathic pain. They range from over-the-counter analgesics for mild pain to anti-seizure medications such as carbamazepine, antidepressants, and opioids or opioidlike drugs for more severe pain. Surgical procedures may be necessary in some cases to release trapped or compressed nerves.
Lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet and supervised exercising and stretching, can help maintain and improve muscle control and relieve some symptoms. People should work with their doctors to determine the best treatments for their condition. A person's needs often change over time, and new and alternative treatments continue to be developed.