Polyneuropathy. Diagnostics & Therapies
What types of treatment for polyneuropathy are there?
There is a difference between treating the causes of a disease i.e. treatment of an underlying disease (e.g. well-adjusted medication for diabetes for the diabetic patient with diabetic polyneuropathy) and treating the symptoms where primarily it is a case of alleviating pain and altered sensations.
Polyneuropathy. Diagnostics, Therapy & Rehabilitation
Diagnostics. How is polyneuropathy identified?
Diagnostics for polyneuropathy may involve the following procedures:
- Patient history: Taking a detailed patient history including recording previous illnesses in discussion with the patient
- clinical examination
- Examination of nerve conduction speeds (and if necessary an electromyogram)
- Measurement of blood values
Therapy. Types of treatment
Treating the cause of polyneuropathy (causal therapy).
Causal treatment is dependent upon the cause.
- In the case of inflammatory neuropathies, medications are used which have an effect on the immune system.
- In the case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome for instance the progression of the disease can be allayed through the infusion of high-dose immunoglobulins or by blood washing therapy (plasmapheresis).
- In the case of infectious neuropathies, which are rare in Germany, antibiotics must be given, which are effective against the pathogens.
- In the case of neuropathy because of a vitamin deficiency the appropriate vitamins must be taken in high doses,
- and with toxic neuropathies it is imperative that toxin exposure ceases.
Treating the symptoms of polyneuropathy (symptomatic therapy).
Normal painkillers usually have little effect for the symptomatic treatment of altered sensation and pain. It has come to light that some medications originally developed for depression or epileptic seizures are very effective against neuropathic pain.
Rehabilitation of patients with polyneuropathy.
Inpatient rehabilitation is necessary and especially in the case of severe acute neuropathies, must be supported with very frequent treatment with exercises in order to avoid complications such as joint stiffening and shortening of tendons, to prevent further loss of muscle mass and to support the regeneration of the nerve paths. In severe cases achieving independence first of all from the ventilator is imperative. Then sitting, standing and later walking must be relearnt, if necessary using aids to support the joints, so-called ortheses.
These centres of excellence in our clinics and hospitals have doctors and therapists qualified to treat polyneuropathy.