Know and Understand the Cause of Neuropathy and How to Deal with It

Edited by Debbie, Charmed, Eng, Anonymous and 3 others

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Neuropathy is a disorder that occurs when there is damage to the peripheral nerves, of the nervous system. These nerves extend out from the brain and the spinal cord. They pass on nerve impulses and sensory information from the body to the spinal cord where they are carried to the brain. When you have damage to the nerves, this hinders the normal function of the peripheral system. The symptoms of Neuropathy depend on the kind of nerve that is affected. With motor nerve damage, cramps, spasms, and muscle weakness can occur. You can also have poor coordination and a loss of balance.

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What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy does not pertain to a specific disease but a cumulative number of symptoms and complications manifested in wide range of illnesses. This can also present itself as idiopathic or apparent even if the underlying cause remains undiagnosed. Neuropathy is more commonly referred to polyneuropathy or peripheral neuropathy which involves damage to multiple nerves or specifically to the peripheral nervous system which renders significant disintegration to the nerves outside of the spinal column and the brain. This however does not cover nerve damage found in the central nervous system.

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A Closer Look on the Nerve Cells:

There are roughly around 100 billion estimate count of nerve cells or neurons which are found in the brain, spinal column, and nerves which main function is to gather or accumulate information from varied organ systems of the body and enable transmission of specific electrochemical messages from one neuron to another over wide range of distances. As such, neurons are heralded as the "building blocks" that powers up the nervous system. They vary in size and shape depending on the nature of their functions. They have basically the same composition and function with that of the cells, the only difference is its uncanny ability to electrochemically transmit signals even from long distances.

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Virtual.marian neuron.jpg

The neurons are composed of 3 basic parts:

  • Cell Body - This is composed of all the intrinsic parts of a cell which includes the nucleus which is the main control center or coined as the "brain of the cell" which regulates all cellular activities consisting of genetic expression, cellular division or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) replication, storage of genetic materials, and for other metabolic and growth functions. This also contains the ribosomes which are responsible for the robust production of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and proteins in the cellular body. Also, this is composed of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) which are typically found in eukaryotic cells which has key responsibility for lipid synthesis, protein synthesis, and carbohydrate metabolism. The last component is the mitochondria which is regarded as the main powerhouse of the cell as it converts as it breaks down nutrients and converts them to energy which can be utilized for different cellular activities of the body. Once the cell body deteriorates, the neuron also dies with it. Cell bodies are categorically clustered together in ganglia which can be found in varied parts of the brain as well as the spinal cord.
  • Axons - These are also referred to as "nerve fibers" which consist of long and slender projections that carry and transmit nerve or electrical impulses away from the cellular body. These are also typically covered in myelin sheet which provides insulation which relatively speeds up the transmission of information or electrical impulses. The myelinated nerve cells are usually found in the motor and sensory neurons while the nonmyelinated neurons are located in the brain and the spinal column.
  • Dendrites - These are also called "nerve endings" which are described as thin projections which allow communication from one neuron to another. The dendrites which are typically found in the ends of every cell also helps the neuron perceive its environment.

Peripheral neuropathy involves these particular nerves:

  • Motor Nerves -
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    This is also commonly referred to as "motor neurons" that are responsible for carrying information from the brain or central nervous system onto the varied parts of the body such as the different muscle groups, skin, and other glands which are classified by function as voluntary muscles or that which can be consciously controlled and directed.
  • Sensory Nerves -
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    These are the voluntary nerves responsible for transmitting nerve signals or information caught by sensory receptors from different parts of the body or our varied sensory organs such as the skin, hands, eyes, mouth, tongue, and ears which are then passed on to be recorded and interpreted on the central nervous system or the brain. This can identify "pain" or "gratification" as well as variations in temperature like "hot" or "cold"; among others.
  • Autonomic Nerves -
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    As the terminology suggests, these visceral nerves are considered automatic or involuntary which runs outside of human conscious control which includes blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, sexual arousal, and digestion; to name a few. This can also work alongside the somatic nervous system which can somehow be controlled. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) can be further classified into two types - the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems - which integrate and execute both inhibitory and excitatory responses that involves different body organs such as the blood vessels, heart, stomach, intestines, bladder, pupils, and sweat glands.

The most common nerve involved in neuropathy is the median nerve which causes a medical condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. All the other nerves such as the pudendal nerve, ulnar nerve, and lateral femoral cutaneous nerve can cause pain and numbness in involved sites of entrapment.

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Common Signs and Symptoms of Neuropathy

The symptoms that are manifested in neuropathy depends primarily on the specific peripheral nerves involved.

  1. 1
    Pain.
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    This refers to a burning, jabbing, tingling, or sharp sensation felt on the particular body region or usually in the upper and lower extremities.
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  2. 2
    Numbness.
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    This pertains to either temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the affected area of the body which is likened to wearing a hand glove or a leg stocking.
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  3. 3
    Sensitivity to touch.
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    Commonly referred to as "tactile sensitivity" or "tactile allodynia", this describes extreme sensitivity even to the lightest touch or sensation felt by the skin. In fact, the skin can be irritated with very little contact or irritant in close proximity.
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  4. 4
    Changes in the color of the nails, hair, and skin.
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    Nerve endings are stretched all over the skin region as well as the nails and hair which can change in color and texture depending on the extent of nerve damage and inflammation. The skin could appear blotchy, red, or pale while the nails and the hair can appear yellow, pale, brittle, or damaged. The nails may also have distinct white spots.
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  5. 5
    Diminished sense of coordination.
    Virtual.marian balance sensors.jpg
    As the sensory nerves or balance sensors are damaged, communication lines between nerve impulses or synaptic messages to the brain and the different parts of the body are severely affected which result to poor sensory response to any stimulus which directly affects a person's sense of balance.
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  6. 6
    Dizziness.
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    Feeling light-headed or having dizzy spells are triggered by sudden and erratic blood pressure changes which can also trigger vomiting.
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  7. 7
    Sexual problems for both men and women.
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    The autonomic nervous system is responsible for sexual arousal which when severed can affect sexual response and gratification for both males and females. Most women experience vaginal dryness or irritation and trouble reaching orgasm. On the other hand, males also encounter problems such as erectile dysfunction.
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  8. 8
    Urinary trouble.
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    Bladder problems or difficulty can be experienced with the loss of bladder control. You will feel the urgency to void at the most inconvenient hours like late at night or busy hours at work. Urinary incontinence or involuntary leakage of urine can happen at this point.
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  9. 9
    Sweating Problems.
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    The natural body response brought about by different weather or temperature changes can create uncontrollable sweating problems such as having inappropriate or diminished sweating response. You can either sweat excessively or too little.
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  10. 10
    Having problems digesting food.
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    Digestion is gravely affected with peripheral neuropathy as the nerves involved in the complex digestive or metabolic processes are severely impacted.
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  11. 11
    Constipation.
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    Having difficulty passing hard stools which can be painful and can cause bleeding or tearing of the anal tissue.
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  12. 12
    Diarrhea.
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    This is described as frequent and urgent passing of loose, watery, and foul-smelling stools that can appear in somewhat green, brown, or black color.
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  13. 13
    Abnormal blood pressure.
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    A patient's blood pressure levels can go haywire when the autonomic nerves are damaged. The normal blood pressure has a systolic and diastolic reading of 120/80. Anything above these standard readings such as a diastolic of 81-89 are considered "pre-hypertensive", diastolic of 90 accounts for stage 1 hypertension, and systolic that goes beyond 160 with the corresponding diastolic of 100 and above are categorized under stage 2 hypertension which requires immediate medical attention.
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  14. 14
    Vomiting.
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    This is a condition clinically referred to as emesis which refers to forceful expulsion of food. Digestion troubles are caused by nerve dysfunctions which can affect metabolism and trigger regurgitation that can simultaneously cause involuntary throwing up of undigested food. Abdominal cramps and bloating can also be observed in most patients suffering from neuropathy.
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  15. 15
    Shortness of breath.
    Virtual.marian dyspnea.jpg
    This can be experienced usually during of after performing any vigorous physical activities or exercises. Respiration or breathing is adversely affected by nerve damage in the autonomic nervous system which can leave you gasping for air or catching your breath in between routine physical activities.
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  16. 16
    Sudden weight loss.
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    Digestive and metabolic problems can result to sudden weight loss (without even going on a restricted diet and exercise). This can also be triggered by nausea and vomiting as well as diminished sense of taste that can result to loss of appetite and a sudden drop on the weighing scale.
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Reasons that can bring on Neuropathy

Factors

  1. 1
    Diabetes
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  2. 2
    Infections
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  3. 3
    Tumors
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  4. 4
    Vitamin deficiencies
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  5. 5
    Alcohol
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  6. 6
    Contact with Toxins.
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Neuropathy can happen suddenly and some will develop slowly. The symptoms are normally more severe in the late evening. There is usually an underlying reason for this disorder, but there are treatments available.

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Treatment

  1. 1
    Therapies
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  2. 2
    Pain Relievers
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  3. 3
    Cold and Hot Compresses
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  4. 4
    Botox Injections
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  5. 5
    Vitamin Therapy
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  6. 6
    A Healthy Diet
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  7. 7
    Mobility Aids are Helpful.
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  8. 8
    Possible Surgery
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Home Remedies

  1. 1
    Vitamin B6
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  2. 2
    Primrose Oil
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  3. 3
    Castor Oil.
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  4. 4
    Fish Oil.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Find support groups on the internet for encouragement.
  • Talk to various health professionals of how you can better deal with your pain.
  • Talk with a close friend to relieve any negative feelings you have in dealing with your sickness.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
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Article Info

Categories : Noindexed pages | Physical Health

Recent edits by: Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles, Rebecca M., Anonymous

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