If you simply broke down the word into two, you get ‘neuro’ which means ‘nerve’ and ‘pathy’ which means ‘damage’ so basically neuropathy is nerve-damage. This nerve damage is mostly caused by inflammation of body nerves. While it might sound very basic it is a condition which is commonly referred to as idiopathic which means it is hard to determine its exact underlying cause. Neuropathy is one of the most common diseases in the world but it still has no proper treatment available. People often take the symptoms lightly until they realize the condition has worsened and there is irreversible damage. Now that we understand “what is neuropathy” we shall move on further.
Neuropathy is commonly referred to as peripheral neuropathy when the nerves of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) are affected by this condition. As the PNS is not protected by the blood-brain barrier it is highly susceptible to various infections and injuries due to exposure to toxins in the body. This condition may result from various factors such as injuries, traumas and side effects caused by systemic illnesses.
Types of Peripheral Neuropathy
The peripheral neuropathy is further classified into:
If a single nerve is damaged it is called “Mono-neuropathy”. This condition occurs due to constant physical stress due to stress or pressure on the nerve for example, lifting heavy weights or using a computer for long periods. If the condition is treated in time it can lead to mono-neuritis multiplex in which there is loss of sensory or motor function and in rare cases may also lead to hypersensitivity of the nerves.
When multiple nerves are damaged simultaneously it is known as “Poly-neuropathy”. This type of peripheral neuropathy includes diabetic neuropathy in which the nerves in the limbs are damaged. Another kind that derives from it is linked to the autonomic nervous system. This is known as the autonomic neuropathy. This condition affects the involuntary functions of the body such as heart rate, breathing, bowel movements, etc.
Signs and Symptoms of Neuropathy
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Muscle weakness
- Unusual sweating
- Paresthesia or tingling sensation in the body or limbs
- Loss of sensory functions which includes an inability to sense touch, pain, pressure or temperature, which can lead to trauma
- Hypersensitivity can persist in diabetic patients
- Loss of coordination and balance
Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy
Although there’s no treatment there are several ways which the condition can be improved and managed. These are:
- Improving vitamin deficiencies
- Controlling the level of blood sugar
- Physical therapies and injections
- Intake of a prescribed balanced diet
- Prescribed medication
Before following any method it is imperative that the patient consults his or her doctor.