Millions of Americans suffer with peripheral neuropathy. That's the medical term for problems with the nerves in the body's periphery, mainly the arms and legs. Here's more on one man who suffers with leg pain everyday.
Wayne Lemme says, "2 1/2 years ago it started bothering me. Sometimes I get a shock that goes all the way from my hips down to my toes."
For for the 59 year old Sioux Falls man it started as a cramping pain in his left thigh that wouldn't go away. It got to be so uncomfortable the pain would wake him abruptly from a dead sleep.
Wayne says, "Shortly after that I started getting sharp pains in my legs. It was like you are hooked up to bare wires plugged into a light socket."
That brought him to Neurology Associates, a Specialty Clinic at Avera McKennan (located in the Avera Doctor's Plaza #2) where his Neurologist Dr. Lisa Viola had him run him through a battery of tests. In one of the EMG Lab rooms Neurodiagnostic Technologist Rick Mehlhaff puts surface electrodes on Wayne's legs and feet and then stimulates the nerves to see the response and the speed of that response. That tells him the health and function of the peripheral nerves.
Neurologist Dr. Lisa Viola says, "The symptoms are quite bothersome. They may have problems with walking and with their balance. The most troublesome symptom is the pain. It's not always there but that's what usually causes people to come in because they are wondering what's going on."
Dr. Viola says there can be a lot of causes for peripheral neuropathy, diabetes is the most common. Other causes can be a vitamin deficiency, thyroid problems, autoimmune disorders, all of which were ruled out in Wayne's case. So for him Dr. Viola hasp prescribed medication and Wayne knows he can minimize the pain by not letting himself get overtired.
Wayne says, "It's just something you live with. I know it could be worse like MS or ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).
Wayne will always have a nagging pain in his leg, but he says he's glad he has peace of mind it's not something worse.
"And I'm fortunate to have a good doctor," Wayne says.
Dr. Viola says if they can determine the underlying cause of the peripheral neuropathy often times they can treat it, but for Wayne Lemme they can only minimize his symptoms since there is no cause. He says he's just one of the "lucky ones".