Neuropathy – Causes and Treatment

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Overview

Neuropathy includes a number of disorders that occur when peripheral nervous system’s nerves (part of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord) are damaged. The condition is generally referred to as peripheral neuropathy and is most commonly caused by damage to nerve axons.

Neuropathy causes, usually pain and numbness in hands and feet and can lead to injuries, infections, metabolic disturbances and sensitivity to toxins. One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes.

In some cases, autonomic neuropathy, can affect internal organs like the heart, blood vessels, bladder or intestines. Peripheral neuropathic pain is often described as a tingling or burning sensation.

Pain is felt continuously but often symptoms improve with time, especially if neuropathy is based on a condition that can be cured.


Contents

1. Overview
2. Classification of neuropathy
3. Causes
4. Risk factors and categories
5. Diagnosis
6. Treatment
7. Neuropathy – management and prevention


Classification of neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy can be classified broadly into the following categories:

- Mononeuropathy – when one nerve is involved. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve palsy, radial nerve palsy and peroneal nerve palsy.

- Multiple mononeuropathy – two or more nerves are individually affected.

- Polyneuropathy – generalized damage to peripheral nerves. Examples include diabetic neuropathy and Guillian-Barre syndrome.

Another classification of neuropathies is the functional one or to the type of onset.


Causes

About 30% of cases of neuropathy involve idiopathic neuropathy, which means that its cause is unknown. Another 30% of neuropathies are caused by diabetes. Approximately 50% of people with diabetes develop some type of neuropathy.

The rest of neuropathy cases, called acquired neuropathy have more causes, including:
- Trauma or pressure on nerves, often as a result of repetitive movements such as typing on a keyboard
- Nutritional problems and deficiencies of vitamins (often lack of vitamin B)
- Alcoholism associated with inadequate nutrition and vitamin deficiencies
- Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Tumor that presses on nerves
- Other diseases and infections, such as kidney disease, liver disease, Lyme disease, psoriasis, thyroid disorders, HIV / SIDA or hypothyroidism
- Inherited disorders such as Chracot-Marie-Tooth disease and amyloid polyneuropathy.
- Exposure to toxins and toxic substances such as heavy metals and certain drugs and treatments for cancer.


Risk factors and categories

People with diabetes, those who do not properly control their blood sugar levels are prone to the emergence of some forms of neuropathy. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis increase the risk of developing neuropathy.

People who have undergone organ transplantation or those with AIDS but also those who have suppressed immune system, have an increased risk of neuropathy onset. In addition, those who abuse alcohol or have a significant deficit of vitamins (especially B group) have an increased risk of developing neuropathy. Neuropathy may encounter especially in people with kidney disease, liver or thyroid disorders.


Diagnosis

The investigations to detect neuropathy include nerve conduction test. Peripheral neuropathy is often difficult to diagnose. This is not a single disease but a symptom that often has multiple possible causes. Standard diagnostic process begins with a complete medical history, with physical examination and neurological examination that involve tendon reflexes, strength and muscle tone, ability to feel sensations, posture and coordination.

Blood tests are commonly requested by the physician to detect levels of vitamin B12. Other common tests include urinalysis, thyroid function tests and electromyography.


Treatment

There are various treatments available for peripheral neuropathy. These range from traditional medicines and special creams or treatments that stimulate the nervous system. Tricyclic antidepressants, especially selective inhibitors of serotonin reuptake are the treatment of first choice in neuropathies. They will relieve the pain.

Another class of drugs commonly prescribed to treat neuropathy are anticonvulsants. These drugs block calcium channels of neurons to limit pain. For treating symptoms the doctor may prescribe some narcotic opioids, but these are less preferred because of the risk of addiction. However opiates have been used consistently to reduce pain.

For some types of neuropathy, such as post-herpes neuralgia, physicians recommend treatment with an anesthetic such as lidocaine. Topical applications of capsaicin were also used to treat neuropathic pain.

Alternative therapies for peripheral neuropathy include cannabinoids (a class of chemicals that are found in marijuana composition), botulinum toxin type A (commonly known as Botox), NMDA receptor antagonists such as ketamine supplements (alpha lipoic acid and benfotiamine), chiropractic massage, yoga, meditation, cognitive therapy and acupuncture.

Other therapies for neuropathy involve neuromodulation therapies. These include implantable and non-implantable technics (electrical and chemical) such as spinal cord stimulators, implanted pumps in the spinal cord, electrodes that stimulate the brain’s motor cortex and method called deep brain stimulation.


Neuropathy – management and prevention

There are several ways to manage and prevent neuropathy symptoms. Maintain feet’s healthy is very important especially for diabetics. Patients should also examine their feet to see any wound, cut, callus, blisters and avoid tight shoes and socks.

Doctors may recommend an exercise plan that could prevent and reduce pain and neuropathy specifies that control blood sugar levels. Patients should stop smoking and start eat healthy foods.

Comments

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Comments

  1. Neuropathy Treatment says:

    i have diabetes and i’m scared that if i don’t control my blood sugar that my neuropathy is going to get worse. What things would you recommend to make sure that i can control my blood sugar?

  2. Neuropathy Treatment says:

    This is great article to give an insight into neuropathy. The great thing to be aware of is that there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms and allow people to lead, normal, healthy lives.

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