Neuropathy – What is it?

Neuropathy – also called peripheral neuropathy refers to a condition that develops when nerves in the body’s extremities, such as the hands, feet and arms, are damaged. 

This distorts the way the neurons communicate with each other and with the brain. Neuropathy can affect 1 nerve or nerve type, or a combination of nerves.

The symptoms depend on which nerves are affected.


What causes neuropathy?

Many types of neuropathy are “idiopathic,” or of unknown cause, but a number of conditions can trigger it.

Diabetes is the most common cause of chronic peripheral neuropathy. It happens when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves.

Other medical conditions and injuries include:

  • Chronic kidney disease: if the kidneys are not functioning normally, an imbalance of salts and chemicals can cause peripheral neuropathy.
  • Injuries: Broken bones and tight plaster casts can put pressure directly on the nerves.
  • Infections: Shingles, HIV infection, Lyme disease, and others can lead to nerve damage.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome: This is a specific type of peripheral neuropathy, triggered by infection.
  • Some autoimmune disorders: These include rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Other causes include:

  • excessive alcohol intake
  • some drugs, for example, chemotherapy and HIV treatment
  • B12 or folate vitamin deficiencies
  • poisons, such as insecticides and solvents
  • some kinds of cancer, including lymphoma and multiple myeloma
  • chronic liver disease
  • Disorders of the small blood vessels can reduce blood supply to the nerves, resulting in nerve tissue damage.


Who gets neuropathy?

Neuropathy affects people of all ages; however, older people are at increased risk. It is more common in men and in Caucasians. People in certain professions, such as those that require repetitive motions, have a greater chance of developing compression-related neuropathy.


What are some of the symptoms of Neuropathy?


Symptoms of neuropathy vary depending on the type and location of the nerves involved. Symptoms can appear suddenly, which is called acute neuropathy, or develop slowly over time, called chronic neuropathy.

Common symptoms of sensory neuropathy include:

  • Tingling.
  • Numbness, especially in the hands and feet.
  • Changes in sensation — Some people feel severe pain, especially at night, and some are unable to feel pain, pressure, temperature, or touch.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Loss of reflexes.
  • Burning sensation.
  • Feeling that you are wearing socks or gloves when you are not.

Common symptoms of motor neuropathy include:

  • Muscle weakness.
  • Difficulty walking or moving your arms or legs.
  • Muscle twitching.
  • Cramps.
  • Spasms.
  • Loss of muscle control.
  • Loss of muscle tone.
  • Loss of dexterity.
  • Falling.
  • Inability to move a part of the body.

Common symptoms of autonomic neuropathy include:

  • Abnormal blood pressure or heart rate.
  • Decreased sweating.
  • Problems with urination.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Weight loss (unintentional).
  • Dizziness when standing up or fainting.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Problems with digestion


When to see a doctor

Seek medical care right away if you notice unusual tingling, weakness or pain in your hands or feet. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance for controlling your symptoms and preventing further damage to your peripheral nerves.

At Nutrihealth we believe that nature knows no incurable disease and even neuropathy can be managed.

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