What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a term used to describe as a problem with peripheral nerves as opposed to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Though doctors are sometimes unable to pinpoint the exact cause of an acquired neuropathy (this is then known as an idiopathic neuropathy), there are many known causes: systemic diseases, physical trauma, exposure to toxins, drugs, infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders.
- There are three types of nerves that can be involved, autonomic, mother and sensory.
- Neuropathies are either inherited at birth or acquired later in life.
- It is often seen with a number of different underlying medical conditions.
- Diabetes is one of the most common conditions that neuropathy is associated with. Can cause chronically high blood glucose levels that damage nerves.
- Other medical conditions include:
- Spinal cord injury
- Facial nerve diseases
- Infectious diseases, including herpes zoster, HIV, Lyme disease, Chagas disease, and leprosy
- Poisoning from toxins, such as thallium, lead, and arsenic
- Hereditary disorders, including Fabry’s disease and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Autoimmune disorders, such as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and vasculitic neuropathy, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogrens Syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Physical nerve injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome
The term ‘neuropathy’ is associated with a large number of body areas as well as many nerves. The type of presenting symptoms depend on the type of nerves that are affected.
- Sensory nerves (the nerves that control sensation) causing cause tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the feet and hands
- Motor nerves (the nerves that allow power and movement) causing weakness in the feet and hands
- Autonomic nerves (the nerves that control the systems of the body eg gut, bladder) causing changes in the heart rate and blood pressure or sweating