Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & More
Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy is a nervous disorder in which nerve damage occurs to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.
In neuropathy, one or more nerves are typically affected and it results in various painful symptoms including pain, muscle weakness, and tingling.
Let’s study the symptoms, causes, types, and treatments of peripheral neuropathy in detail.
Symptoms Of Neuropathy
Some of the most prominent symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Extreme difficulty in walking
- Digestive problems including ulcers.
- Joint disorders and bone weakness
- High sensitivity to touch
- Numbness in the limbs
- Decreased sexual desire
- digestive issues including vomiting and loss of appetite
- Sensitivity of light to eyes
- Shrinkage of muscles in the affected area.
- Severe pain in the abdominal region
- Difficulty in standing, walking, and sitting.
- Vision problems
- Lack of concentration
- Extreme weakness
- Numbness in the hands and fingers.
And many others!
Types of neuropathy
You may also see the different types of neuropathy referred to by where the neuropathy symptoms are located or by what causes the neuropathy.
- Radial neuropathy (in your arm)
- Femoral neuropathy (thigh)
- Peroneal neuropathy (knee)
- Diabetic neuropathy (caused by diabetes)
- Proximal neuropathy (caused by diabetes and affects your muscles)
- Ulnar neuropathy (elbow)
- Cervical neuropathy (neck)
- Autonomic neuropathy (similar to polyneuropathy, and affects the body’s systems that maintain homeostasis)
For more information, let’s discuss some common types of neuropathy. Remember that only a medical professional can suggest what is the specific kind of neuropathy you are suffering from.
To clarify, if the nerve damage is caused by diabetes, it is known as diabetic neuropathy.
If you have diabetes, then there are chances that a high blood glucose level will result in the injury of one or more nerves, causing severe damage to the legs and feet.
According to the research, diabetic neuropathy affects more than 50% of diabetic patients, producing extremely painful symptoms. It is also observed that the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are quite mild in some patients.
This type of neuropathy affects the legs and feet and sometimes hands and arms.
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for nerve control in the areas of the stomach, heart, sex organs, eyes, and intestines. Any nerve damage in these areas causes autonomic neuropathy, resulting in a lack of awareness, numbness, and muscle twitching.
It is also known as diabetic amyotrophy that results when the nerves in the areas of the buttocks, legs, chest, or hips are affected. The intensity of symptoms keeps on changing with time. Some of the symptoms include difficulty in walking and sitting.
It is nerve damage that affects only one kind of nerve. It can lead to paralysis of one side of the face along with other symptoms.
Causes Of Neuropathy
Importantly, peripheral neuropathy has a variety of toxic, metabolic, and systemic causes. Most of them are treatable, especially those related to diabetes mellitus and nutritional deficiencies.
Some of the common causes of neuropathy include:
- Auto-immune diseases such as vasculitis and arthritis.
- Diseases related to kidney liver and thyroid gland.
- Bone marrow disorders.
- Inherited disorders such as Charcot-Marie Tooth disease.
- Viral or bacterial infections such as HIV and Epstein-Barr virus.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy requires a detailed medical exam including a blood test. first of all, it requires:
- Detailed neurological examination of the patient including the performance analysis of reflexes, posture, and coordination.
- A complete review of medical history including your drinking habits, family history, symptoms, and lifestyle.
In some cases, the doctor recommends various tests for further confirmation.
Some of them are:
- Blood tests.
- Skin biopsy.
- Nerve biopsy.
- Nerve function tests.
- Imaging tests.
The first goal of neuropathy treatment is to relieve the symptoms. For this purpose, various medications are recommended including:
- Pain-relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Anti-seizure medications, such as pregabalin and gabapentin.
- Topical treatments, such as the application of capsicum cream to relieve symptoms of neuropathy.
- Antidepressant medications including tricyclic antidepressants.
Therapies & procedures
To ease the signs of peripheral neuropathy therapies are often recommended including:
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy (TENS)
- Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin.
- Physical therapy.
Some people also try complementary treatments such as:
- Herbal treatments (e.g. evening primrose oil to relieve nerve pain)
- Intake of amino acids.