Peripheral neuropathy is becoming more common, with over 20 million people in the United States diagnosed with the condition.
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy, but there are many other reasons why it happens. It affects people of all ages, but it is most common in older people, especially those over 65 years old.
With cases of neuropathy on the rise, many people wonder how serious a condition it is and how much they should worry about it.
In general, you should take even minor health conditions seriously. Even something seemingly minor can turn into a significant, chronic condition if it isn’t taken care of.
In the article below, we will take a look at neuropathy and how serious it can get.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Neuropathy damages one or more nerves, typically resulting in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain in the affected area.
Neuropathies often start in your hands and feet, but they can occur in other places on your body.
Also called peripheral neuropathy, indicates a problem with your peripheral nerves.
The nerves outside of your brain and spinal cord make up your peripheral nervous system.
Your central nervous system is made up of your brain and spinal cord.
Think about how these two systems work together: The hub of your body is your central nervous system. It’s the place where all trains come and go. It’s the hub.
Your peripheral nervous system is a network of nerves like a train track that leads to the main station.
Trains (information signals) can go to and from the central station on the tracks, which are like nerves (your brain and spinal cord).
Neuropathy happens when neurons, which are nerve cells, are damaged or killed.
This makes it harder for the neurons and the brain to talk to each other.
Neuropathy can affect just one nerve (mononeuropathy) or a group of nerves in a small area (multifocal neuropathy), or it can affect many peripheral nerves all over the body (peripheral neuropathy) (polyneuropathy).
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathies can be caused by many different things, making it hard to find the cause.
Diabetes, both types 1 and 2, is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy.
This is because people with diabetes have high blood sugar levels damage the nerves in the body’s edges.
Neuropathies picked up from the environment are caused by toxins, trauma, illness, or infection.
Some things that are known to cause acquired neuropathies are:
- Certain kinds of cancer and chemotherapy used to treat them
- Infections such as Lyme disease, shingles, or AIDS
- Several rare inherited diseases
- Kidney or thyroid disease
- Poor nutrition or vitamin deficiency
- Certain medications
- Conditions where nerves are mistakenly attacked by the body’s own immune system or damaged by an overaggressive response to injury
- High alcohol consumption
- Side effects of certain medications or exposure to certain toxins
- Traumatic injuries
- Viral infections like shingles
- Autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, and vasculitis.
- Metabolic problems.
- Exposure to toxins
Hereditary neuropathies are not as common.
Hereditary neuropathies are diseases of the nerves that are passed down from parent to child through their genes.
Idiopathic neuropathies are caused by things that are not known. This is how one-third of all neuropathies are put into groups.
What Are The Symptoms Of Neuropathy?
Every nerve in your peripheral system does something different, so your symptoms will depend on which nerves are affected.
Nerves can be put into these categories:
- Sensory nerves are in the skin and sense things like heat, cold, pain, vibration, and touch.
- Motor nerves are what make muscles move.
- Autonomic nerves control things like blood pressure, sweating, heart rate, digestion, and the way the bladder works.
Some possible signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are:
- Gradual onset of numbness, prickling, or tingling in your feet or hands, which can spread upward into your legs and arms
- Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, or burning pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Changes in sexual function
- Pain during activities that shouldn’t cause pain, such as pain in your feet when putting weight on them or when they’re under a blanket
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling as if you’re wearing gloves or socks when you’re not
- Paralysis if motor nerves are affected
- Loss of sensation in the arms or legs
- Severe pain
If autonomic nerves are affected, the following could be signs and symptoms:
- Heat intolerance
- Not being able to sweat or sweating too much
- Bowel, bladder, or digestive problems
- A drop in blood pressure making people feel dizzy or faint.
Types Of Peripheral Neuropathy
There are many different kinds of peripheral neuropathies, which can be caused by many different things.
They range from carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful injury when your hands and wrists are used repeatedly, like when you use a computer, to nerve damage caused by diabetes.
Mononeuropathy is damage to just one of your nerves. Most of the time, it’s because of a physical injury or shock, like after a traumatic accident.
Most cases of peripheral neuropathy are polyneuropathy.
Polyneuropathy is the most common type of neuropathy, and it occurs when several nerves in the body’s edges stop working at the same time.
How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?
If neuropathy isn’t treated, it can slowly damage more nerves and cause permanent damage.
You could get foot ulcers and other problems that can lead to serious bacterial infections because there isn’t enough blood flow.
This, in turn, causes gangrene, which is when all body tissue dies.
When this happens, it could lead to the affected area being amputated because of what started out as a simple tingling feeling.
Even worse is when the nerves that control body functions are hurt. They control automatic parts of the body, like digestion, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate.
When peripheral neuropathy affects these nerves, it can make it hard for the heart and circulatory systems to work automatically.
This is a serious condition called cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy.
After that, you may need to get treatment to raise your blood pressure or have a pacemaker put in your body to control the rhythm of your heart.
Neuropathy can be a very serious condition, even if it initially seems harmless.
When To See A Doctor For Neuropathy
Most symptoms come and go when the disease starts so people tend to ignore the problem and take painkillers to ease the pain. Don’t ignore any of the signs of peripheral neuropathy.
Even though it might seem like a small problem, it could lead to big problems, like the loss of a limb.
People need to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and explore treatment options right away when the condition starts.
Even though it is a complicated problem, most of the time it is easy to treat and sometimes even cure if you take action right away.
Even if it can’t be cured, neuropathy can be managed and controlled to prevent permanent nerve damage.
Do You Need Help with Neuropathy?
If you have peripheral neuropathy or diabetic neuropathy, you should work with a doctor who knows about these conditions.
When neuropathy is still in its early stages, you can start treatment and make changes that can help lessen the damage.
If you catch neuropathy in one of its later stages, we can help you manage your symptoms and lessen your pain so you can get back to enjoying your life.
Ethos Health Group will do a series of non-invasive tests to find out what stage you are in and what options you have.
Ethos Health Group has treatment programs that use cutting-edge, non-invasive therapies to help nerve damage in the feet or hands heal by making new blood vessels grow.
If you want help with your neuropathy, you should get in touch with Ethos Health Group as soon as you can.
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