Neuropathy is a damage to one or more of the nerves. Peripheral neuropathy refers to dysfunction or damage to peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves are the nerves that reside outside the brain. They send information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body parts including arms, legs, feet, internal organs, mouth and face. They constitute the peripheral nervous system and any damage to one or more of these peripheral nerves is termed as peripheral neuropathy. There are many types of peripheral neuropathies depending on the type of peripheral nerve that is affected.
- Genetic defects
- Certain infections
- Thyroid disorders
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Certain medications
- Autoimmune diseases
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathies vary depending on the peripheral nerve that is affected
- Stabbing pains
- Tingling or pricking sensation in hands and feet
- Dropping blood pressure
- Weakness in arms and legs
- Numbness in hand and feet
- Dropping objects from hand
- Falling often due to loss of coordination
- Bowel and bladder dysfunctions
Diagnosis of peripheral neuropathies can be made on the basis of:
- Review of signs and symptoms
- Physical examination
- Medical and family history
- Neurological examination
- Imaging procedures including MRI and CT scan
- Nerve biopsy
- Nerve conduction tests
- Blood tests
Preventive measure for peripheral neuropathies is mostly to manage the conditions that are at risk of causing the disorder.
- Regular exercise
- Avoid alcohols, smoking and illegal drug use
- Managing levels of blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol levels
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Avoid exposure to harmful chemical
- Avoid repetitive motions that damaged nerves
- Choose proper postures while sitting, standing and other physical activities.
Medications, surgery and therapeutic methods are the main procedures available in the treatment for peripheral neuropathies.
- Medication used in the treatment of peripheral neuropathies include drugs to relieve the signs and symptoms. They include pain relievers, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs.
- Surgery can be done in conditions where neuropathy is caused due to tumours, in order to remove the tumour that is exerting pressure on the affected nerve.
- Physiotherapy can be given to deal with difficulties like muscle weakness and movements.
- Other medical procedures include immune suppressing and plasmapheresis can be done in conditions where the neuropathy is caused due to autoimmune disorders. Another procedure named Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can be used in which electrodes are placed on the skin that delivers low electric current which in turn disrupts the pain signals from reaching the brain.
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