Peripheral Neuropathy – Symptoms, Types and Causes

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peripheral neuropathy definition

This condition is caused by damage to your peripheral nerves which often leads to pain, numbness and weakness, usually in the hand and feet. Also this condition can affect other areas of your body. The peripheral nervous system is sending information from your brain and spinal cord (this is the central nervous system) to the rest of the body. The peripheral neuropathy can result from exposure to toxins, inherited causes, metabolic problems, infections and traumatic injuries. The diabetes mellitus is one of the most common causes for peripheral neuropathy. Those people who suffer from peripheral neuropathy generally describe the pain as tingling, burning or stabbing. In many cases, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy improve, especially if it is caused by a treatable condition. There are some medications which can reduce the pain that is caused by the peripheral neuropathy.

peripheral neuropathy diabetes

Peripheral Neuropathy symptoms

It is known that every nerve in the peripheral system has a specific function so the symptoms of it depend on the type of nerves that are affected. Nerves are classified into:

  • Autonomic nerves that control functions, such as bladder, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Sensory nerves that receive sensation, such as pain, temperature, touch or vibration from the skin
  • Motor nerves that control muscle movement

Here are the signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy:

  • Muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected
  • Lack of coordination and falling
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, freezing or burning pain
  • Gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your hands or feet, which can spread upward into your legs and arms

If the autonomic nerves are affected, then the signs and symptoms can include:

  • Changes in the blood pressure, causing lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Bowel, bladder or digestive problems
  • Heat intolerance and altered sweating

This disease can affect one nerve (it is known as mononeuropathy), 2 or more nerves in different areas (it is known as multiple mononeuropathy) or many nerves (it is known as polyneuropathy). The carpal tunnel syndrome is the example for mononeuropathy. Most people who suffer from peripheral neuropathy have polyneuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy causes

The peripheral neuropathy is not a single disease. It is a nerve damage which is caused by different conditions. Here are causes of neuropathies:

  • Autoimmune diseases: These diseases are including necrotizing vasculitis, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Guillain – Barre syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Sjorgen’s syndrome.
  • Alcoholism: People with alcoholism often make poor dietary choices which can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
  • Exposure to toxins: These toxic substances are including chemicals or heavy metals.
  • Diabetes: It is known that more than half the people who suffer from diabetes develop some type of neuropathy.
  • Infections: These infections are including certain bacterial or viral infections, such as HIV, diphtheria, leprosy, hepatitis C, Epstein – Barr virus, shingles and Lyme disease.
  • Medications: There are some medications especially those who are used for the treatment of cancer (chemotherapy) can cause peripheral neuropathy.
  • Bone marrow disorders: These disorders are including amyloidosis, lymphoma, a form of bone cancer (osteosclerotic myeloma) and abnormal protein in the blood (monoclonal gammopathies).
  • Trauma or pressure on the nerve: Traumas, such as from sport injuries, falls or motor vehicle accidents can cause severe or damage peripheral nerves. The nerve pressure can result from using crutches, having a cast or repeating a motion such as typing many times.
  • Inherited disorders: There are some hereditary types of neuropathy, such as Charcot – Marie – Tooth disease.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: Vitamin E and B vitamins, such as Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 are very important for the nerve health.
  • Other disorders: These disorders include an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), connective tissue disorders, liver disease and kidney disease.

There are many cases when in a number of cases, no cause can be identified (it is known as idiopathic peripheral neuropathy).

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