Peripheral neuropathy is an ailment faced by many diabetic and cancer patients but can occur even outside these conditions. The purpose of the nervous system is to transmit information, feeling, and instructions between the brain and the body. The term ‘peripheral nerve’ refers to those nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the skin, internal organs, and muscles.

Nervous System Damage

When damage to the nervous system exists, communication can be impeded, limiting movement and sensation in the affected areas. Some patients of peripheral neuropathy will also experience pain as part of the condition.

Yes. While they all result from the same form of damage, the location of that damage and the areas affected are identified by different names. Carpal tunnel, for example, is a form of peripheral neuropathy resulting from repetitive motion. These conditions are particularly common in those over the age of 55 but can occur in patients of any age. Your physician will let you know what your specific type of peripheral neuropathy is called and what its symptoms and treatments are.

Tingling, loss of sensation, numbness, and burning sensations are all commonly reported in patients experiencing peripheral neuropathy. These symptoms can lead to dangerous situations due to the resulting lack of sensation. Patients with peripheral neuropathy may not recognize that they’ve been injured, or may burn themselves due to the inability to detect temperature in an affected area. Loss of bladder or bowel control, sexual dysfunction, constipation, low blow pressure, and other conditions can all be symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

What causes a peripheral neuropathy is dependent on the specific type being discussed. Broadly speaking, these neuropathies are broken into three categories – Acquired, hereditary, and idiopathic. Idiopathic neuropathies are those where the cause remains unknown.

Acquired Neuropathy – This type of neuropathy has multiple causes, including diabetes, alcoholism, poor nutrition, certain medications, cancer, kidney disease, AIDS, etc.

Hereditary Neuropathy – This type of neuropathy is not common, but include conditions that are passed to a child from one or more of their parents. One of the most prevalent is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1, which results in the arms and legs experiencing weakness.

These include just some of the potential causes of peripheral neuropathy. Your physician will help you determine what the specific source of your condition is.

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