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Peripheral neuropathy: symptoms, types, and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The nervous system is crucial in our body and is linked to coordinating almost all its processes and being everywhere. Its optimal or poor functioning will affect excellent general health or the appearance of one or more symptoms, even when the number of nerves involved initially is small.

At FastlyHealwe, discuss peripheral neuropathy: symptoms, types, and treatment. A very complex nervous condition, both in the causes that can cause it and the signs and manifestations that it produces in our body.

Classification of the nervous system

The nervous system is classified in various ways. The first is the differentiation between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

The central nervous system is made up of the brain and the bone marrow, which runs through the interior of the spinal column. It is the central computer of the body, in cooperation with the endocrine system, specifically the hypothalamus, pituitary, and pineal glands. This central nervous system (CNS), from the brain and through the bone marrow, sends signals to the peripheral nervous system, which is responsible for transmitting these commands to the different regions of the body (efferent neurons), and in turn, collects information from the medium and send it to the CNS for due processing (afferent neurons).

In turn, the nervous system is classified into the autonomic or vegetative nervous system and the somatic:

  • The autonomous system is responsible for regulating all those involuntary functions, for example, the digestive process.
  • We handle bodily voluntarily, for example, when we want to raise an arm.

These clarifications are necessary to understand peripheral neuropathy and the reason for its complexity.

Peripheral neuropathy: definition and symptoms

Peripheral neuropathy is an insufficiency in the functioning of the afferent and efferent nerves, which can produce various symptoms, depending on the type of nerve and affected area.

The most common symptoms are the following:

  • Muscle atrophy or weakness: when the affected nerves are motor (bodily system).
  • Hypoaesthesia or anesthesia: reduced sensitivity in some way, especially touch.
  • Dysesthesia: other sensitivity disorders that may involve burning, tingling, numbness, or neuropathic pain.
  • Postural sensitivity: difficulty knowing where different parts of the body are.
  • Sphincter control dysfunctions: fecal and urinary incontinence.
  • Dysfunction in peristaltic activity: These are products of damage to the autonomic nervous system. Example: difficulty passing food once swallowed, constipation, and intestinal obstruction.

Other symptoms caused by the condition in the autonomic system are:

  • Inability to regulate blood pressure
  • Difficulty sweating and breathing correctly.

This change in the sensitivity and control of muscles and viscera usually appears gradually. In specific sensitivity disorders, these are generally gradual, beginning in the periphery of a limb (hands or feet) and extending towards the center, as with idiopathic neuropathies.

Peripheral neuropathy: types

A large number of factors can cause this insufficiency, and depending on these causes, the types of peripheral neuropathy differ:

  • Diabetes leads to poor nutrition in the entire system, including the nervous.
  • Hypothyroidism, kidney disease, or any condition that produces high fluid accumulation, damaging or blocking the nerves.
  • Obesity: Oxygen obstruction by excess fat can facilitate neurodegeneration.
  • Plexopathies: They are those that encompass an entire nervous plexus. They are branchial plexitis and lumbosacral net.
  • Infections: Bacteria, parasites, and viruses can cause this condition. Among them: are Cytomegalovirus, Herpes simplex and complex, hepatitis B and C, HIV, leprosy, and diphtheria bacteria.
  • Cancer tumors: the tumor and its growth can directly affect blood circulation and nervous tissue.
  • Chemotherapies: in this therapeutic process, there is a risk of damaging both benign and malignant cells.
  • Demyelinating immune inflammation: Guillain-Barré and Miller-Fisher syndrome.
  • Drug abuse: they act directly on the central and peripheral nervous system, and their consumption generates adverse effects on it in the short and long term.
  • Chronic stress and low-grade inflammation: little by little, they consume the body, leaving it without resources.
  • Accidents and trauma: the most common are carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatic nerve.
  • Idiopathic neuropathy: one that progressively advances from the periphery (e.g., hands and feet). There is no known cause or cure.
  • Hereditary genetic factors, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
  • It is induced by cold or radiation.
  • It is induced by toxins: lead, mercury, platinum, and arsenic, among others.

Mononeuropathies and plurineuropathies

This is another taxonomy used to differentiate the number of affected nerves, referring to mononeuropathy when it is only one and plurineuropathy when it is more than one. Polyneuropathy is the most common type. Examples of mononeuropathies are some of the idiopathic cranial types, such as Bell’s palsy and trigeminal neuralgia.

Peripheral neuropathy: treatment

Just as there are so many types of neuropathies, the tools to combat them are diverse. The initial thing is that the cause of it must be fought so as not to apply an entirely ineffective treatment.

Once this requirement is met, the most common is to take medications that assist in the patient’s pain management. In these cases, the following are used:

  • Antidepressant medications such as gabapentin and amitriptyline.
  • Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepan and lamotrigine.
  • To a lesser extent, pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

None of these drugs can be used abusively or without medical supervision, as they can worsen the condition.

In the specific case of idiopathic neuropathies, medicine has only been found to mitigate the symptoms with these drugs, but not the cure of the disease, which in the rest of the classifications reaches an average of 80% of cases of complete neuropathy cure.

There are also these other resources:

  • Topical medications (capsaicin and topical lidocaine).
  • Correct food and nutrition.
  • The practice of constant physical exercise.
  • Ozone therapy.
  • Acupuncture.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Peripheral neuropathy: symptoms, types and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Brain and nerves category .

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