The human nervous system is made up of two parts: the central nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which includes the connection nerves running from the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the human body, including the hands and the feet.
Many patients with neuropathy may experience a variety of painful symptoms due to nerve damage or injury. But, with the proper treatment approach, neuropathy can be effectively treated and even reversed. Diagnosis of neuropathy is fundamental towards proper treatment. Dr. Alex Jimenez, a chiropractor in El Paso, TX, can help patients with neuropathy.
Peripheral Neuropathy Causes & Symptoms | El Paso, TX (2019)
Neuropathy is a medical term used to describe a collection of general diseases or malfunctions which affect the nerves. The causes of neuropathy, or nerve damage, can vary greatly among each individual and these may be caused by a number of different diseases, injuries, infections, and even vitamin deficiency states. However, neuropathy can most commonly affect the nerves that control the motor and sensory nerves. Because the human body is composed of many different kinds of nerves which perform different functions, nerve damage is classified into several types.
Neuropathy can also be classified according to the location of the nerves being affected and according to the disease-causing it. For instance, neuropathy caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. Furthermore, depending on which nerves are affected will depend on the symptoms that will manifest as a result. Below we will discuss several specific types of neuropathies clinically treated by chiropractors, physical therapists and physical medicine doctors alike, as well as briefly describing their causes and their symptoms.
Peripheral neuropathy, which is often simply referred to as “neuropathy,” is a state that happens when your nerves become damaged or injured, oftentimes simply disrupted. It’s estimated that neuropathy affects roughly 2.4 percent of the general populace and approximately 8 percent of people older than age 55. However, this quote doesn’t include people affected by neuropathy caused by physical trauma to the nerves.
Neuropathy can affect any of the three types of peripheral nerves:
- Sensory nerves, which transmit messages from the sensory organs, eyes, nose to the brain
- Motor nerves, which track the conscious movement of the muscles
- Autonomic nerves, which regulate the involuntary functions of the body
Sometimes, neuropathy will only impact one nerve. This is medically referred to as mononeuropathy and instances of it include:
- Ulnar neuropathy, which affects the elbow
- Radial neuropathy, which affects the arms
- Peroneal neuropathy, which affects the knees
- Femoral neuropathy, which affects the thighs
- Cervical neuropathy, which affects the neck
Sometimes, two or more isolated nerves in separate regions of the body can become damaged, injured or disrupted, resulting in mono neuritis multiplex neuropathy. Most often, however, multiple peripheral nerves malfunction at the same time, a condition called polyneuropathy. According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or the NINDS, there are over 100 kinds of peripheral neuropathies.
Neuropathies are often inherited from birth or they develop later in life. The most frequent inherited neuropathy is the neurological disease Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which affects 1 in 2,500 people in the USA. Although healthcare professionals are sometimes not able to pinpoint the exact reason for an acquired neuropathy, medically referred to as idiopathic neuropathy, there are many known causes for them, including systemic diseases, physical trauma, infectious diseases, and autoimmune disorders.
A systemic disease is one which affects the whole body. The most frequent systemic cause behind peripheral neuropathy is diabetes, which can lead to chronically high blood glucose levels that harm nerves.
Other systemic issues can cause neuropathy, including:
- Kidney disorders, which permit high levels of nerve-damaging toxic chemicals to flow in the blood
- Toxins from exposure to heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and thallium
- Certain drugs and/or medications, including anti-cancer medications, anticonvulsants, antivirals, and antibiotics
- Chemical imbalances because of liver ailments
- Hormonal diseases, including hyperthyroidism, which disturbs metabolic processes, potentially inducing cells and body parts to exert pressure on the nerves
- Deficiencies in vitamins, such as E, B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), B12, and niacin, that can be vital for healthy nerves
- Alcohol abuse, which induces vitamin deficiencies and might also directly harm nerves
- Cancers and tumors that exert damaging pressure on nerve fibers and pathways
- Chronic inflammation, which can damage protective tissues around nerves, which makes them more vulnerable to compression or vulnerable to getting inflamed and swollen
- Blood diseases and blood vessel damage, which may damage or injure nerve tissue by decreasing the available oxygen supply
Signs and Symptoms of Neuropathy
Depending on the reason and unique to each patient, signs, and symptoms of neuropathy can include:
- Burning/prickling sensations
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
- Temporary or permanent numbness;
- Dysfunction in glands or organs
- Impairment in urination and
- Sexual function
Such signs and symptoms are dependent on whether autonomic, sensory, or motor nerves, as well as a combination of them, are ultimately affected. Autonomic nerve damage can influence physiological functions like blood pressure or create gastrointestinal problems and issues. Damage or dysfunction in the sensory nerves may impact sensations and sense of equilibrium or balance, while harm to motor nerves may affect movement and reflexes. When both sensory and motor nerves are involved, the condition is known as sensorimotor polyneuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy may result in several complications, as a result of disease or its symptoms. Numbness from the ailment can allow you to be less vulnerable to temperatures and pain, making you more likely to suffer from burns and serious wounds. The lack of sensations in the feet, for instance, can make you more prone to developing infections from minor traumatic accidents, particularly for diabetics, who heal more slowly than other people, including foot ulcers and gangrene.
Furthermore, muscle atrophy may cause you to develop particular physical disfigurements, such as pes cavus, a condition marked by an abnormally high foot arch, and claw-like deformities in the feet and palms.
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Neuropathy can be caused by a variety of injuries and/or aggravated conditions, often manifesting into a plethora of associated signs and symptoms. While every type of neuropathy, such as diabetic neuropathy or autoimmune disease-associated neuropathy, develops its own unique group of signs and symptoms, many patients will often report common complaints. Individuals with neuropathy generally describe their pain as stabbing, burning or tingling in character.
If you experience unusual or abnormal tingling or burning sensations, weakness and/or pain in your hands and feet, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention in order to receive a proper diagnosis of the cause of your specific signs and symptoms. Early diagnosis may help prevent further nerve injury. Visit www.neuropathycure.org for more details.
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