FAQ On “What Is Neuropathy”

What is neuropathy? Here's a brief introduction and some f.a.q's on this subject. The definition of neuropathy comes from the Greek word neuron - meaning nerves, and pathos - which means disease.

Neuropathy is the term used to describe disorders or illnesses of the nerves. It may affect either just one nerve – a mononeuropathy, or several nerves – a polyneuropathy.

What is the definition of nerves?

Nerves are cells or neurons that are responsible for sending signals to the central nervous system, the brain, and back to the area being innervated. It is composed of the nucleus, axon and myelin sheath.

What are the different types of nerves?

Nerves are divided into motor, sensory, and autonomic, according to function. According to size, there are the large myelinated neurons, small myelinated neurons, and small unmyelinated neurons. According to location, it is divided into the central nervous system with the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, located in the extremities.

How does a neuropathy start? What causes it to happen?

A neuropathy begins when nerve cells become damaged and deteriorate because of the lack of nutrients from the blood that is needed to keep them healthy. This cessation of nutrient flow from blood circulation has many causes, and may either be temporary or permanent. Pressure on a certain blood vessel will momentarily cease blood from flowing to the area it supplies, causing the nerves to be affected, triggering neuropathic symptoms. An increase in blood glucose levels prevents nitric oxide from lowering blood pressure by lessening its ability to relax blood vessels. Sometimes, its cause is idiopathic, which makes it harder for it to be treated. Metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and diseases of the kidney, liver, and thyroid can also cause neuropathies. Toxic substances and some medications, especially those for treating cancer, can also cause a neuropathy to happen. Some bacterial and viral infections may lead to produce a neuropathy.

What are the symptoms related to a neuropathy?

Neuropathy symptoms depend on the cause and the type of nerves affected. These include numbness, tingling sensation, loss of sensation, loss of position sense, loss of vibration sense, pain, muscle weakness, burning, and sometimes twitching. For more severe cases, it may induce an extreme sensitivity to touch and lack of coordination.

Can neuropathy still be treated? How?

Most neuropathies can be treated by managing the disease causing it. Most of the time, it is the symptoms exhibited by the neuropathy that are being alleviated by the medications and therapies given. Controlling the blood glucose levels and removing the vitamin deficiencies can help treat neuropathies. Some natural treatments suggested are acetyl-L-carnitine, lipoic acid, evening primrose oil, fish oil, magnet therapy, selenium, and vitamin E. Medications given can include acetaminophen and some antidepressants. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can help ease pain by preventing pain signals from reaching the brain although it does not work for all.

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