What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy affects your nervous system. It damages the nerves responsible for transmitting impulses or messages from and to your brain. The condition disrupts the normal functioning of the nerves, which is sending impulses to your spinal cord and other parts of the body.
These are nerves that play an important role of connecting the spinal cord, and brain to the skin, muscles and other internal organs. Peripheral nerves originate from the spinal cord and are arranged in lines referred to as dermatomes. Their major function is to transfer signals regarding physical sensation from your body parts like mouth, face, hands, arms, feet among others to the brain.
Well, damage to any of these nerves impulse impairs communication between the brain and other body parts. As a result, legs and arms sensation, as well as muscle movement, is greatly weakened
Types of peripheral nerves
There are three major types of peripheral nerves in your body. These are:
- Motor nerves – connecting to the muscles
- Sensory nerves – Connecting to the skin
- Autonomic nerves – Connecting to the internal organs
What causes damage to peripheral nerves leading to peripheral neuropathy?
Malfunctioning of the peripheral nerves can be as a result of:
- Systemic illness,
- Inherited disorder,
- An infection
- Autoimmune and Infectious disorders
Various types of bacteria and Viruses affect nerve tissue. Moreover, people infected with HIV have the likelihood of being affected by peripheral neuropathy. Bacterial infections like the Lyme disease are known to cause damage to the nerves. On the other hand viruses such as Varicella-zoster virus causing shingles and the herpes simplex causing chickenpox destroy sensory nerves leading to severe episodes of pain.
Additionally, autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are known to interfere with the normal functioning of the peripheral nervous system. Tissue damage and chronic inflammation all over the body leads to peripheral nerve pain. Furthermore, pressure resulting from inflammation contributes significantly to peripheral nerve pain.
- Generalized Diseases
Diabetes is a leading cause of nerve damage which as a result, leads to the major forms of neuropathy. Additionally, neuropathy risk has been shown through research to increase in individuals suffering from either: High blood pressure, Overweight, and Diabetes. Similarly, people past the age of 40 years have high chances of contacting peripheral neuropathy. Research findings clearly indicate that individuals suffering from diabetes have some form of nerve damage. This damage is attributed to high levels of blood sugar in the body.
- Toxins and Alcohol
Alcohol intake is well shown to have severe effects on the nerve tissue.
The major cause of nerve injury is physical trauma. This includes falls, fractures or vehicle accidents. Being inactive and staying in one position for too long has a high chance of causing this condition. For instance, high pressure on the median nerve (on the wrist supplying movement and feeling to the hand) leads to carpal tunnel syndrome which is a major type of peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
The major symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are as follows:
- Sweating excessively
- Sexual dysfunction mostly in men
- Tingling in feet and hands
- Experiencing a lot of pain
- Feet or hand numbness
- Dropping things from your hands regularly
- A shocking or buzzing sensation
- Skin thinning
- Blood pressure drop
- Difficulty in digestion
Types of peripheral neuropathy
There are various kinds of peripheral neuropathy affecting people throughout the world. These disorders are usually classified according to the problems resulting from the problem or what leads to the damage. Similarly, there are terminologies used to indicate nerve damage severity. Here are the types of peripheral neuropathy.
This refers to damage to only one peripheral nerve. The leading cause of this damage is trauma or physical injury e.g. from an accident. Prolonged pressure on a nerve as a result of being sedentary is another trigger of mononeuropathy. Some examples of mononeuropathy include; Radial nerve palsy, Ulnar nerve palsy, Peroneal nerve palsy and Carpal tunnel syndrome (the common type of mononeuropathy).
Polyneuropathy arises when multiple nerves (peripheral) all over the body fail to function at once. The condition is caused by exposure to toxins and complications resulting from diseases e.g. Kidney failure or cancer. People suffering from diabetes have the leading form of polyneuropathy referred to as diabetic neuropathy.
The common polyneuropathy symptoms include Numbness, Legs, and arms losing sensation, hands, and feet experiencing a burning sensation and tingling. In fact, people affected by chronic polyneuropathy have the likelihood of burning themselves due to loss of sensitivity to temperature. Likewise, they are likely to have numerous open sore as a result of the inability to feel pain.
Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment
Treating peripheral neuropathy focuses on the causative disorder. Regular treatment works to help you resume your regular duties and responsibilities. On some instances, treatment combination works best to eradicate the problem.
There are pain medications to help you as a patient suffering from peripheral neuropathy deal with the pain. Some of these medications include; acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. Blood transfusion meant to remove irritating antibodies through what is called Nerve Renew is a great way of dealing with peripheral neuropathy too.
Peripheral neuropathy is a human disorder affecting the transfer of impulses in the body. It affects communication between the central nervous system (CNS) and the other parts of the body. As a result, the normal response to stimuli is impaired. Similarly, the patient suffers severely from lack of response to physical pain and temperature among other senses. This severely influences the life of the patient. The causes of this disease are as elaborated above. Likewise, treatment methods are as discussed above, implying that the condition is manageable.