Adult Peripheral Neuropathy can be a serious, debilitating and life-altering medical condition that can limit an individual’s mobility and significantly impact his or her quality of life. The following brief article will examine this health malady, as well as cover associated topics including the different forms of the illness, the disease’s causes, symptoms, methods of diagnosis and treatment options.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral Neuropathy affects the body’s peripheral nervous system. This region comprises nerves that are apart from, but controlled by the central nervous system, which is made up of a person’s brain and spinal column. The peripheral nerves perform specific functions upon receiving messages from the central nervous system. Neuropathy occurs when such nerves become damaged and are unable to receive those important messages and execute specific bodily functions. Peripheral nerves can be found in various bodily regions such as the muscles, skin and internal organs. When these nerves become damaged, impacted parts of an individual’s system can, in certain instances, be rendered severely disabled.

What Are The Different Types Of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Medical researchers have identified in excess of 100 different forms of this nerve-related disability. However, each separate condition is classified based upon the extent of the nerve damage it causes. Manifestations impacting only one particular nerve are labeled mononeuropathies. Unfortunately, however, most affect several nerves at a time and are therefore categorized as polyneuropathies. In addition, neuropathies also impact specific parts of a nerve.

What Are The Condition’s Symptoms?

Manifestations often depend upon the severity of the condition, in addition to the specific type of nerve that has suffered damage (motor, sensory or autonomic). Motor nerves enable individuals to control voluntary movements. When these nerves are injured, someone might experience difficulty and/or be unable to move body parts needed to perform everyday activities such as walking, lifting and grasping objects and/or speaking. Impacted motor nerves often precipitate symptoms including muscle weakness, cramping, muscular twitching, slowed reflexes and atrophy (a decrease in muscle size).

Sensory nerves enable people to experience various sensations like pain, heat and cold. When these nerves encounter damage, manifestations can include limited or decreased sensation in affected bodily regions, specifically the hands and feet, loss of coordination skills, balance problems, mobility challenges, insensitivity to temperature changes. and insensitivity to pain.

Autonomic nerves regulate the body’s involuntary actions performed by various organs such as respiration, digestion, excretion, circulation and glandular functions. Injured autonomic nerves may elicit symptoms like loss of bladder and/or bowel control,frequent blood pressure alterations and the inability to sweat.

What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

This illness can be precipitated by a host of physical, biological and environmental issues.

Physical

Sudden or repetitive injury are among the condition’s most common precipitators. Acute trauma that can occur in the wake of automobile accidents, falls or even during medical operations can result in nerve damage. In addition, those who perform jobs or leisure activities in which awkward, repetitive movements are executed over long periods of time can experience stress-related nerve damage resulting in various peripheral neuropathies.

Biological

Many biological ailments could precipitate nerve damage such as various forms of cancer, kidney problems, infections, autoimmune disorders, small blood vessel conditions and endocrine diseases.

Environmental

External factors like such as prolonged use of certain medications, long-term exposure to numerous environmental toxins and allergens, as well as excessive alcohol intake and/or substance abuse can bring forth the condition.

How Is This Illness Diagnosed?

Because peripheral neuropathy can be precipitated by numerous and sometimes a combination of causes, diagnosis is typically only reached after an extensive examination of an individual’s medical and environmental histories. However, when and if a physician’s investigation leads him or her to a potential diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, he or she may be able to confirm those suspicions by employing many different diagnostic tools including various blood tests, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), nerve biopsies, nerve conductor tests and electromyography.

How Is Peripheral Neuropathy Treated?

Most treatment protocols involve first diagnosing the condition’s specific underlying cause. Sometimes fixing the precipitating problem can alleviate or possibly even eliminate the pain, weakness and other associated manifestations. In instances where nerve damage is extensive and/or the symptoms are particularly severe, treatment might be geared towards managing said symptoms using medications, electrical nerve stimulation and/or surgery.

Peripheral Neuropathy can be an especially debilitating condition for the aged and/or people with other physical disabilities and/or complicating factors. In such instances, rehabilitation might be necessary. Those in need of rehabilitation may benefit from the services we provide at Maplewood of Sauk Prairie. We are a skilled nursing facility and provide outpatient rehabilitation as well. For more information, please contact us.

Sources:
1. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet#3208_2
2. https://www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-peripheral-neuropathy-basics#1
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352061

About Paul Fiscus

Paul Fiscus is the director of Maplewood of Sauk Prairie.