Neuropathy is also referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Nerves outside the brain and spinalcord make up the peripheral nervous system. If these nerves are damaged then this might resultin Peripheral Neuropathy. It is estimated that 25% to 30% of Americans will be affected by thiscondition. Peripheral Neuropathy affects all ages but old people are at greater risk.
The nervous system is made up of three types of nerves, sensory nerves, motor nerves,andautonomic nerves. Each has an important role to play in keeping our body healthy andfunctioning. Neuropathy has a very defined classification. It can affect one nerve(mononeuropathy), combination of nerves (multi focal neuropathy), or many peripheral nervesthroughout the body (polyneuropathy).
Sensory Nerves: The sensory nerves carry messages from our five senses to the brain.
Motor Nerve:The motor nerves carry messages from the brain to our muscles.
Autonomic Nerves: Autonomic nerves control all the body functions like breathing, heart rate,digestion, blood pressure, sweating, bladder control,etc,. They constantly monitor the controland respond to our body’s needs.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy depend on the type of nerves that are damaged and thelocation of the nerve involved. They can appear for all of a sudden or can develop slowly over aperiod of time.
Some of of the common symptoms include:
1. Tingling, also described as “pins and needles” or numbness in the hands and feet.Sometimes it can spread to arms and legs.
2. Sharp pain, burning sensation, throbbing pain or stabbing pain.
3. Change in sensations, extreme sensitivity to the touch, severe pain at night.
4. Loss of coordination, falling.
5. Weight loss.
6. Problem with bladder control, common problems with digestion, and bowel movementincluding diarrhoea and constipation.
7. Muscle weakness, like difficulty in walking and moving your arms or legs or both.
8. Cramps and spasms and muscle twitching.
9. Sweating, too much or too little.
10. Loss of muscle control.
11. Inability to feel things in hands and feet.
12. Lightheadedness, abnormal heart rate for low blood pressure causing dizziness whilestanding.
13. Sexual function problems.
There is no single cause for Peripheral Neuropathy. But diabetes is number one cause in theUnited States. Some of the major causes of Peripheral Neuropathy are :
It is the leading cause for neuropathy in the United States. 60% to 70% of people with diabetessuffer from neuropathy. Diabetes is the most common cause of small fiber neuropathy whichcauses burning sensation in hands and feet.
Infections like shingles, HIV, syphilis, chickenpox, herpes, lymph disease, Hepatitis C, leprosyEpstein-Barr virus and West Nile virus etc,. can also cause neuropathy. Rheumatoid arthritis,lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome etc,. are autoimmune disorders that causeneuropathy.
Sports activities, falls, fractures, accidents or injuries can also result in neuropathy. Anyrepetitive activity causing stress on nerves may also put increasing pressure on the nerveswhich might also result in neuropathy.
Myeloma lymphoma tumors, kidney disorders, hypothyroidism, liver disorders can also causeneuropathy.
Familial amyloidosis, Fabry disease and Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease are commondisorders that can cause peripheral neuropathy.
Vascular problems caused by vasculitis, smoking and diabetes can result in peripheralneuropathy.
Chemotherapy, some anti seizure medications, some HIV medications and some industrialchemical solvents can also affect nerve function and may lead to peripheral neuropathy.
Heavy alcohol use can also result in neuropathy.