Understanding what is neuropathy is critical. Thousands of people are diagnosed with neuropathy annually. Some common questions people ask are, “What is this condition?” “How do I deal with the pain and discomfort?” “Can I be cured?” Most people are not familiar with neuropathy and experience pain and anxiety until they have been diagnosed by their physician and their condition has been evaluated. Unfortunately some patients wait hoping the symptoms will disappear. It is important to seek medical advice as early as possible to treat the underlying cause.
In simple terms, neuropathy is an inflammation of the nerves caused by damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, therefore called peripheral neuropathy. This inflammation may be associated with disease, metabolic problems or traumatic injuries to the nerves. Some people develop neuropathy as a side effect of medications given for an existing medical condition.
It is a common occurrence for patients who are diabetic to experience some form of neuropathy. The latest research indicates that as many as 20 million Americans suffer from neuropathy. The human body has an enormous communication system that transfers information from the brain and spinal cord to all parts of the body by the nerves.
Peripheral nerves send messages back and forth and any damage to the peripheral nervous system will disrupt and interrupt communication between the brain and the various parts of the body.
Understanding peripheral neuropathy is quite simple! The peripheral nervous system connects the central nervous system to the limbs and organs of the body. Peripheral neuropathy deals with the damage to this system, with the most common form affecting the nerves in the legs and feet. Because there are many symptoms, a neurological evaluation by your physician is necessary to evaluate all the variables including a thorough family history. Your physician may require tests and screenings to determine the cause of the neuropathy and extent of involvement. Once the underlying cause of the neuropathy is determined, the treatment plan can be started.
Peripheral neuropathy comes in a few different forms, ranging from mononeuropathy, which is quite common, to polyneuropathy, which is more serious because of the wider range of afflicted areas.
In mononeuropathy, only one nerve is affected. Because the pain is localized, the cause of mononeuropathy is often easier to diagnose. A common example of mononeuropathy is the carpal tunnel syndrome. The median nerve traveling through the carpal tunnel of the wrist is compressed. This is a common problem in people who overuse computers, and is related to repetitive strain injury. Another example that we all experience from time to time is the sensation of pins and needles. Although this is a less severe problem, it is fixable simply by adjusting to a more comfortable and natural position.
In polyneuropathy, many different nerves are affected. Therefore diagnosis is more difficult since the cause could be centralized at any part of the body. Often the damage on both sides of the body is symmetric making many simple tasks very challenging. The cause for polyneuropathy can be something as simple as alcohol abuse, though in many cases, the cause is not as obvious.
Resources About Cranial neuropathy:
Cranial neuropathy is split into two main sections: optic neuropathy and auditory neuropathy.
Optic neuropathy refers to damage of the optic nerve. This type of neuropathy is related to vision, either as a sudden loss (partial or total) of vision, or a more gradual decline in vision. Alcohol methanol can cause irreversible damage of the optic nerve if not treated very quickly. This chemical is only present in very small amounts in the alcohol used for recreational purposes.
Auditory neuropathy refers to the problems encountered when the outer hair cells still exist and function, but the signals they receive from the surroundings are not properly transmitted to the brain and auditory nerve. This results in hearing problems, which may be either partial or total deafness. Auditory neuropathy is usually caused by a problem in either the inner hairs of the cochlea, the synapse between these cells and the auditory nerves, or the auditory nerve itself. Partial hearing loss is often difficult to diagnose, and can hence remain undetected for some time.