What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy is when peripheral nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord, are damaged. This condition can cause various symptoms like; pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, and abnormal sensations in different parts of the body. Neuropathy causes can be diverse and may include diseases, infections, injuries, genetic factors, and conditions like diabetes and alcoholism. There are several different kinds of neuropathies, each having its own set of symptoms and causes. The most common type is diabetic neuropathy, caused by high blood sugar levels which leads to nerve damage in legs and feet. Neuropathy symptoms and types of treatment are really dependent upon the specific nerves damaged and the base cause of the condition.
What are the different types of neuropathy?
There are several different kinds of neuropathies, each having its own set of symptoms and causes. Here are just four of the major categories of neuropathy:
- Peripheral Neuropathy: Affects the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, typically nerves in the extremities, which includes conditions like diabetic neuropathy.
- Autonomic Neuropathy: Causes damage to the nerves that control the body’s automatic functions, such as digestion, blood pressure, and bladder function.
- Focal Neuropathy: Affects a single nerve or group of nerves, causing sudden weakness or pain, which can lead to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Cranial Neuropathy: Affects the 12 pairs of nerves connected with the brain that controls functions like; eye movement, hearing, and taste.
What are the causes of neuropathy?
Neuropathy, or otherwise known as peripheral neuropathy, is a condition that causes damage to the peripheral nerves. It can cause various symptoms like; pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, and abnormal sensations in different parts of the body.
The causes of neuropathy are diverse and may include:
- Traumatic injuries
- Metabolic problems
- Inherited causes
- Exposure to toxins
- Alcohol use disorder
- Unhealthy dietary choices
- Deficiency of essential vitamins, such as vitamin B12
- Exposure to poisons and toxic substances
- Certain medicines, especially chemotherapy used to treat cancer
- Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Autoimmune diseases
- Certain cancers and benign tumors
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Certain viral or bacterial infections
- Inflammation of the blood vessels
- Chronic liver disease or chronic kidney disease
- Presence of an abnormal protein in the blood
- Certain medications, such as some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs.
It's important to note that neuropathy causes can be diverse and may include diseases, infections, injuries, genetic factors, and conditions like diabetes and alcoholism. There are several different kinds of neuropathies, each having its own set of symptoms and causes. Neuropathy causes and symptoms can vary between individuals and can be dependent on the type of neuropathy they may have.
How is Neuropathy treated?
Neuropathy treatment is dependent on the base cause and the types of symptoms. Some common treatments and approaches are:
Treating the Base Cause: For example, managing diabetes effectively can help improve or prevent diabetic neuropathy.
Medications: Pain relievers, anti-seizure medicines, and antidepressants can be used to manage pain and improve symptoms associated with neuropathy.
Topical Treatments: Capsaicin cream and alpha-lipoic acid are examples of topical treatments that can help reduce pain sensations in some people with neuropathy.
Physical Therapy: This can help improve strength, balance, and coordination, and reduce pain for some individuals.
Lifestyle Changes: May include changing your diet, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and exercising regularly.
Alternative Therapies: Showing promise in neuropathic pain are alternative treatments like; acupuncture, relaxation therapy, and massage therapy.
Invasive Treatments: More invasive treatments may include; plasma exchange, steroids, if the cause is inflammation or an autoimmune condition then intravenous immune globulin treatment may be more effective.
It is important to note that effectiveness of treatments may vary, and a licensed healthcare physician should be consulted to determine the best approach depending upon the individuals condition and specific needs.