It’s Neuropathy Awareness Week and The Neuropathy Association is working hard to raise awareness about the condition, its warning signs, and the need for early intervention and research for more treatment options.
It is estimated that up to 20 million Americans, or 1 in 15, are currently dealing with peripheral neuropathy, or “nerve damage,” making it one of the most common chronic neurological diseases and one of the leading causes of disability in adults in the U.S.
It is also among the most common neurologic complications of cancer. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) states that 30 to 40 percent of patients treated with chemotherapy develop some degree of neuropathy.
Yet, this painful, and often debilitating, condition continues to be under-recognized. Dr. Thomas H. Brannagan, III, medical advisor for The Neuropathy Association, says greater awareness of neuropathy can help patients identify warning signs earlier, before irreversible nerve damage results:
“While early intervention and treatment can be critical to slowing the disease’s progression, our biggest challenge is many Americans still do not know about neuropathy, are unaware they have it, and do not recognize warning signs, which can include weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain, especially in the hands and feet. If ignored, these symptoms can lead to persistent weakness, loss of sensation or unremitting pain,” states Dr. Brannagan.
How can you raise awareness about neuropathy in your own community?
The Neuropathy Association lists five steps to request a Neuropathy Awareness Week proclamation from your elected public officials. From researching the process in your state or local community, to issuing a proclamation letter, to sharing with the local media—the website guides you in the process, and even includes sample proclamation letters and press releases.
Read 10 tips for managing peripheral neuropathy.