Neuropathy is a medical term that refers to nerve damage. The nervous system consists of two components: the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system represents the nerves outside of the spinal cord and brain.
The nerves of the peripheral nervous system send messages from the central nervous system to the rest of the body. Such nerves regulate an array of functions across the entirety of the body including the voluntary movement of muscles, the perception of surrounding stimulation and the involuntary actions of organs.
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Types of Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy, sometimes under the overarching term of neuropathy, involves a damaging or disruption of the peripheral nerves. Neuropathy tends to be significantly worse in those who are overweight, those who struggle to control diabetes and those have elevated blood pressure.
The use of chemotherapy drugs will induce chemotherapy neuropathy. Chemotherapy seems to have some merit in the context of killing cancer cells but it also has the potential to damage the nerves. People with diabetes can suffer from neuropathy more commonly than others.
The risk for such diabetic neuropathy increases across the aging process. The length of time diabetes is present also plays a role in the chances for neuropathy. The longer one has diabetes, the more likely he or she will suffer from neuropathy. Neuropathy is especially common in those who have diabetes for decades.
Causes of Neuropathy
An array of diseases, infections and injuries can cause neuropathy. In fact, a vitamin deficiency can spur neuropathy. Vitamin B12, additional B vitamins and folate are essential to prevent nerve damage. Physical trauma has the potential to damage the nerves to the point that neuropathy occurs. Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis also have the potential to cause neuropathy. Infections like syphilis, Lyme disease, HIV and leprosy might also damage the nerves to the point that neuropathy occurs.
Amyloidosis might also be a cause of neuropathy. This is a condition involving the positioning of abnormal protein fibers in organs and tissues. Such protein deposits can also lead to organ damage to boot. Even alcoholism, post-herpetic neuralgia, tumors, toxins, poisons and genetic disorders can lead to peripheral neuropathy.
The symptoms of neuropathy are usually the same regardless of the cause. Though certain neuropathy patients will not display such symptoms, the majority of neuropathy sufferers will show at least a minor degree of one or several symptoms. Symptoms typically commence in the feet. The patient feels a tingling sensation, numbness or pain that gradually moves to the center of the body in due time. Neuropathy can extend all the way to the legs and arms.
In some cases, neuropathy patients experience joint positioning issues that lead to falls or general physical awkwardness. Sensitivity to touch is also a common symptom. Those who suffer from neuropathy commonly experience general weakness, the significant loss of muscle mass, loss of dexterity, cramping and the inability to control movement. It is important to note there are some unique symptoms experienced by patients suffering from autonomic neuropathy.
This type of neuropathy is a damaging of the nerves that control the glands and organs. Common symptoms of this type of neuropathy include vomiting, nausea, abdominal bloating, blurred vision, intolerance to heat, constipation, impotence, urinary incontinence and low blood sugar levels.
The optimal form of treatment to control the patient’s symptoms and address the root cause of the neuropathy differs by the patient. If the patient has diabetes, his or her treatment will be different from that of an individual who has a vitamin deficiency. If nerves are entrapped or compressed by a tumor or for any other reason, surgery might prove helpful. A person with diabetes suffering from neuropathy might find relief with the control of his or her blood glucose level.
La Mesa, California Neuropathy
Numerous clinical trials are currently underway to pinpoint new means of treating neuropathy. It is certainly possible patients will rely on magnetic or electrical nerve stimulation for neuropathy relief in the coming years. When it comes to treating neuropathy with medications, pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen tend to disappoint.
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These medications might slightly reduce joint damage or pain yet there is also the potential for them to make the nerve injury that much worse. However, some neuropathy patients have obtained relief from a combination of prescription medications. Oral medications that have proven at least somewhat successful at reducing neuropathy pain include opioids, opioid-like drugs, anticonvulsants and antidepressants.
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