Neuropathy does not refer to a specific disease and includes a set of disorders that damage the body’s nerves. It has different causes and causes: from diabetes to treatment strategies such as chemotherapy. If you want to know more about this disorder, stay tuned. In this article, we will talk about what neuropathy is and what its symptoms are, what causes it, and what strategies are used to treat it.
What is neuropathy?
The messages that are sent from the brain and spinal cord to the organs of the body will maintain their normal and healthy function. Peripheral nerves are responsible for communicating between the brain and spinal cord, with organs, muscles and skin. The connection between them is made possible through communication lines called dermatomes.
Now, if any of these nerve fibers are damaged, one or more lines of communication will be affected. Depending on which part of the body this line of communication connects the brain or spinal cord to, the same part of the body will be affected. Difficulties in moving muscles, numbness in the arms or legs, pain in various parts of the body, or even problems with the normal functioning of internal organs are some of the consequences of being affected by peripheral nerves and dermatomes.
Types of neuropathy
Neuropathic disorders are divided into different types depending on the number of nerves damaged. In the following, we will introduce the types of these disorders and provide you with more information about each of them.
Mononeuropathy, which is less common than other types, affects only one of the body’s peripheral nerves. Physical injury or trauma caused by an accident is the most important cause of it. Having this type of neuropathic disorder can have two other causes:
- Performing repetitive movements continuously (typing with a computer, working on a factory production line, and so on);
- Lack of mobility, including sitting for long periods of time that will constantly put pressure on a particular nerve (those who sit too long or for some reason can not get out of bed).
Carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes pain and discomfort in the wrist area, is one of the most common types of mononeuropathy. The first factor mentioned (performing repetitive movements continuously) is one of the main causes of this syndrome.
In most cases of neuropathy, more nerves are damaged and involved. In these cases, the disorder is called polyneuropathy. Signs and symptoms will vary depending on which group of nerves in the body are involved (autonomic, sensory, or motor nerves):
- Sensory nerves: Emotions and a sense of balance are affected by the consequences of the involvement of these nerves in the disorder;
- Motor nerves: If the motor nerves are involved, the state of mobility and reflexes will be affected;
- Autonomic Nerves: Changes in blood pressure, impaired organ function, and symptoms related to the gastrointestinal tract and intestines are likely to occur if the autonomic nerves are involved.
It is possible for different types of nerves in the body to be involved at the same time following polyneuropathy; For example, when the sensory and motor nerves are involved at the same time, the disorder is called sensory-motor polyneuropathy.
3. Distal Symmetric Polyneuropathy
It is a common type of polyneuropathy and is more common in diabetic patients. In this type of neuropathy, the first nerve fibers to be damaged are usually the farthest fibers from the central nervous system. In the beginning, it will be accompanied by symptoms such as pain and numbness that are felt symmetrically in the legs. As the condition worsens, the symptoms move upwards from the legs and affect other areas of the body.
Signs and symptoms of neuropathy
Signs and symptoms that will be experienced will vary depending on factors such as the type of disorder (mononuropathy or polyneuropathy), the cause, and the patient’s individual condition. However, in most cases it includes one or more of what you will read below:
- feeling pain;
- Temporary or permanent anesthesia;
- Burning sensation, including burning or tingling in the soles of the feet;
- Defects in the function of organs and glands of the body;
- Increased sensitivity when touching objects;
- Muscle weakness or muscle wasting;
- Problems with urinating or having sex.
What causes neuropathy?
There are diseases that increase the risk of nerve damage and neuropathy. In the following, we will provide you with more details about these diseases, which are the main causes of neuropathy.
The role of diabetes in increasing the risk of neuropathy and nerve damage is so great that researchers have considered a separate type for this cause, known as diabetic neuropathy. About 60% of all people who experience neuropathy are diabetics who have had poor performance in controlling the disease and blood sugar levels.
2. Unknown neuropathy (idiopathic)
For about 23% of people who experience neuropathy, the cause remains unknown. Therefore, their disease is referred to as “idiopathic peripheral neuropathy”. After diabetic neuropathy, the largest number are related to the same people whose cause is unknown.
As you know, chemotherapy is used to improve the symptoms of various cancers. This treatment may also be another cause of neuropathy and nerve damage. About 10 percent of those who experience the disorder develop it because of undergoing chemotherapy.
2% of all people with AIDS experience neuropathy. However, it is not yet known whether a weakened immune system is the cause of AIDS or the drugs used to treat and improve its symptoms.
5. Other possible causes
In some cases, the cause of neuropathy is not one of the major causes described. In this case, one of the following possible causes may be involved:
- Thyroid problems;
- Renal failure;
- infectious diseases;
- Autoimmune diseases;
- Addiction to alcoholic beverages;
- Genetic issues (transmission of neuropathy from parent to child);
- Inadequate nutrition and lack of nutrients in the diet (especially vitamin B12).
Treatment of neuropathy
Treatment for neuropathy will vary depending on the type of disorder and how far it has progressed. Damage to nerves is usually irreversible; But in some cases, by realizing the cause of the problem and resolving it, one can find a chance to regenerate the nerves.
For example, controlling blood sugar levels is one of the things they put on the agenda to prevent further damage to the nerves. By using this strategy, the condition of diabetic neuropathy can be improved. If blood sugar levels are not controlled, the neuropathic condition will get worse over time.
1. Improve the symptoms of neuropathy with the help of surgery
Surgery is another solution that is used in some cases to improve the symptoms of neuropathy. In this procedure, by removing the sheath on the nerve, the wound tissue is removed, thus reducing the pressure on the nerve. Surgery is commonly used to relieve pain from carpal tunnel syndrome. Of course, it is also used to improve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
If the cause of the neuropathy is affecting the motor nerves, physiotherapy can be used to relieve muscle weakness or prevent further muscle wasting. Of course, the effectiveness of this treatment strategy largely depends on the patient’s age and the amount of damage to the nerves. It usually does not work well for those who are older.
In most cases, damage to the nerves will lead to permanent and long-term neuropathy; Unless a cause such as chemotherapy is the cause of nerve damage, in which case the process of nerve recovery and regeneration will resume naturally in the body at the end of the treatment period.
in the end
Recognition of nerve damage and the formation of neuropathy is the most important thing that can be done to improve the condition. There are also issues that can be addressed to reduce the likelihood of developing this type of disorder and, if infected, the possibility of disease progression and worsening of the condition.
Having a healthy and nutritious diet is one of the most important issues that should be especially considered by diabetics. These patients should limit their consumption of sweets and instead make healthy choices such as fruits or vegetables. Doing light exercise such as walking is another good way to control the disorder; Especially if the neuropathy is due to damage to the motor nerves and we see muscle weakness or muscle wasting.
Of course, you should consult a specialist before exercising; Because in some cases of neuropathy, there is a possibility of injury following physical activity.
If you have experience with this disorder, suppose you have undergone treatment courses related to it, or if you have witnessed the recovery process of a loved one or loved one, you can tell us and your audience about your experiences in the “Send a Comment” section. If you have a question that you feel has not been answered in this article, ask it in this section. We look forward to hearing from you.