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Peripheral Neuropathy: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Neuro:It is derived from the Greek word “neuron,” meaning “nerve.”

Pathy:From the Greek word „pathos," meaning „affliction or condition.”

In general, peripheral neuropathy refers to a number of conditions caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, which relays sensory information to and from the central nervous system. As a term, peripheral neuropathy refers to a wide range of diseases, which explains the prevalence of this condition. There are approximately 2.4% of people worldwide who suffer from peripheral neuropathy. The United States has more than 20 million people with peripheral neuropathy.

The causes of peripheral neuropathy can be systemic, metabolic, or toxic. Diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, and nutritional deficiencies are some of the most common causes. The diagnosis requires careful clinical assessment, judicious laboratory testing,electrodiagnostic studies, or nerve biopsy if the diagnosis remains unclear. Damage to the nerves in the extremities of the body, such as the hands, feet, and arms, causes peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms vary depending on which nerve is affected.

Peripheral Neuropathy Types

It is estimated that there are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy, each with its own set of symptoms and prognosis. Often, doctors divide them into the following categories in order to assist them in classifying them:

1- Motor Neuropathy

Specifically, this refers to damage to the nerves that control muscles and movement in the body, such as moving your hands and arms or speaking.

2- Sensory Neuropathy

Sensory nerves control what you feel, including pain, temperature, and light touch. A sensory neuropathy affects these nerve groups.

3- Autonomic Nerve Neuropathy

Your autonomic nerves control functions that you are unaware of, such as breathing and heart rate. In the event that these nerves are damaged, serious consequences may result.

4- Combination Neuropathies

Several of these other types of neuropathies may be present in you, for example, sensory-motor neuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

According to the type of peripheral neuropathy, symptoms may vary. There are 100 different types of neuropathy that have been identified by researchers. Generally, the types can be divided into three categories, each with its own set of symptoms. They are as follows:

1- Sensory Neuropathy

The sensory nerves are affected, which are responsible for the sensations of pain, touch, and temperature.

There may be a trusted source for the individual:

  • Coordination and balance issues

  • Hypersensitivity and pins and needles

  • Reduced sensitivity to vibration and touch

  • Reduced ability to detect temperature changes

  • Increased pain or inability to feel it

  • Burning, stabbing, lancing, boring, or shooting pains, which may be more severe at night

As a result of sensory neuropathy, foot and leg ulcers, infection, and gangrene can also occur, especially when the cause is diabetes.

2- Motor Neuropathy

Basically, this affects the muscles that the brain controls consciously.

Symptoms include:

  • Muscle Weakness Resulting In Unsteadiness And Difficulty Buttoning A Shirt

  • Muscle Shrinking

  • Muscle Wasting

  • Muscle Cramps And Twitching

3- Autonomic Neuropathy

The affectsTrusted Source body processes that the brain controls involuntarily. Symptoms may include:

  • Problems With Sweating

  • Heat Intolerance

  • Problems With Blood Pressure

  • Problems With Swallowing

  • Problems With Bowel Or Bladder Control

Peripheral Neuropathy Causes

The term peripheral neuropathy refers to nerve damage caused by a variety of conditions. There are a number of health conditions that can cause peripheral neuropathy, including:

1- Autoimmune Diseases

These include Sjogren's syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

2- Diabetes 

This is the most common cause of the problem. It is estimated that more than half of diabetics will develop some form of neuropathy. There are several forms of diabetic neuropathy, but peripheral neuropathy is the most common.

3- Infections 

Among these are Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis B and C, leprosy, diphtheria, and HIV.

4- Inherited Disorders

Hereditary neuropathies include Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

5- Tumors

It is possible for growths, both cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (benign), to develop on nerves or press on them. The body's immune system may also cause polyneuropathy as a result of some cancers. These are symptoms of a type of degenerative disease known as paraneoplastic syndrome.

6- Bone Marrow Disorders 

Among them are monoclonal gammopathies, myeloma, lymphoma, and the rare disease amyloidosis.

Other Diseases

The most common of these are kidney disease, liver disease, connective tissue disorders, and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).

The following are other causes of neuropathies:

  • Alcoholism

People with alcoholism may suffer from vitamin deficiencies as a result of poor dietary choices.

  • Exposure To Poisons

It is important to note that toxic substances include industrial chemicals and heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

  • Medications 

The use of certain medications, especially those used to treat cancer (chemotherapy), may cause peripheral neuropathy.

  • Injury Or Pressure On The Nerve

An injury to the peripheral nervous system may result from a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or a sports injury. The pressure on the nerves can result from wearing a cast, using crutches, or repeatedly performing a motion such as typing.

  • Vitamin Deficiencies 

To maintain a healthy nerve system, it is essential to consume vitamins B-1, B-6, and B-12 as well as vitamin E and niacin.

Who Is At Risk Of Peripheral Neuropathy?

The following are risk factors for peripheral neuropathy:

  • Diabetes, especially if poorly controlled

  • Kidney disease

  • Excessive alcohol use

  •  Poor nutrition

  • Hormone imbalance 

  • Family history of peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosis

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and body parts affected are so varied that a diagnosis may be difficult. If your healthcare provider suspects nerve damage, they will ask about your medical history and perform a number of neurological tests. The results of these tests can be used to determine the extent and location of your nerve damage.

Peripheral neuropathy is usually diagnosed using a combination of methods. These are: 

  • Symptoms And Medical History

It is likely that your healthcare provider will ask you about your medical history and any recent symptoms or changes you have noticed. Additionally, they may ask you about your nutrition, habits, and lifestyle, as well as any other medical conditions or factors you may have, such as Type 2 diabetes.

  • Physical And neurological Exams

Typically, a healthcare provider will look for physical symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, such as changes in your ability to feel sensations, muscle weakness, changes in your reflexes, or difficulty walking and balancing.

  • Lab, Diagnostic And Imaging Tests

Peripheral neuropathy can be diagnosed using a variety of tests.

Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment

Peripheral neuropathy cannot usually be cured, but there are many things you can do to prevent it from getting worse. Your healthcare provider will first treat an underlying condition such as diabetes before treating the pain and other symptoms of neuropathy.

Occasionally, over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful. In some cases, prescription medications are required. Among these medicines are mexiletine, a medicine used to correct irregular heart rhythms; antiseizure drugs such as gabapentin, phenytoin, and carbamazepine; and some antidepressants such as tricyclics such as amitriptyline.

Another option is to use lidocaine patches and injections to alleviate pain. It is also possible to perform surgery to destroy nerves or to repair injuries that are causing neuropathic pain and symptoms.

Here Are The Next Steps

Here are some tips to make the most of your visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Be clear about why you're visiting and what you want.

  • Write down your questions before your visit.

  • Make sure you bring someone along to help you ask questions.

  • If you get a new diagnosis, write it down, as well as any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Make sure you write down any new instructions your provider gives you.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it works. You should be aware of the side effects of this medication.

  • Ask your doctor if there's another way to treat your condition.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results mean.

  • Make sure you know what to expect if you don't take the medicine.

  • Your follow-up appointment should include the date, time, and purpose.

  • If you have questions, know how to contact your provider

Dr. Rao K. Ali M.D.

Dr. Rao Ali, a board-certified pain management physician, leads the clinic, which specializes in nonsurgical treatment. The physician has experience in the emergency room as well as training in pain management and rehabilitation. As a personal physician, he works with each patient to develop a treatment plan that will minimize or eliminate their pain. Providing expert diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions, Pain Management In Dallas, PA provides a comprehensive range of services. These services include neck pain, back pain, hip and knee pain, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, complex regional pain syndrome, headaches, migraines, and many others.