WHAT IS PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
Peripheral neuropathy is a disease which refers to damage to the peripheral nervous system located outside of the spinal cord and brain which can cause sensory, motor and autonomic dysfunction .Damage to the sensory nerves relate to pain, numbness ,electric
type shocks to the feet, legs, hands and arms and could also affect one's upper body .Damage to the motor nerves is usually associated with muscle weakness ,cramps, uncontrolled muscle twitching, muscle shrinking, bone degeneration and changes in the skin ,hair and nails ..Damage to the autonomic nerves refers to damage to the nerves that control involuntary bodily functions which can affect digestion , bowel and bladder issues ,blood pressure issues ,irregular heart beat, atrial fibrillation ,sweating issues, excessive or limited sweating , sexual dysfunction ,swallowing issues ,hand tremors ,dry eyes ,feet and hands ,sticky feet .
CAUSES OF PERIPHERALNEUROPATHY
1 . DIABETES
Diabetes can cause chronic neuropathy .High blood sugar levels can cause irreversible damage to peripheral nerves resulting in a diabetic neuropathy .It is thus important to keep one's blood sugar under control in order to avoid serious complications with nerve damage to the peripheral nervous system which can lead to amputation of limbs and many other complications which includes heart, liver & kidney disease .
2 . VITAMIN DEFICIENCY
Vitamin deficiencies include B1,B6 & B12 as well as vitamin E .Acceptable levels of these vitamins are essential to maintaining a healthy peripheral nervous system and may result in an onset of peripheral neuropathy in cases of deficiencies .
3. AUTO IMMUNE DISEASE
Auto immune diseases ,the likes of Sjogren's syndrome ,rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus ,Guillain Barre Syndrome ,Chronic Inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and vasculitis whereby one's immune system attacks the tissues of one's peripheral nervous system .
4 . DISEASES AND DISORDERS
Myeloma ,a form of bone cancer ,lymphoma include an abnormal protein in one's blood as well as other diseases the likes of liver, kidney, connective tissue disease and thyroid issues can bring on peripheral neuropathy disorders .
5 . TUMORS & CANCER
Tumours may include cancerous as well as benign growths that are pressing on nerves .Polyneuropathy can arise as a result of some cancers related to the body's immune response .
6 . OTHER
There are other causes of neuropathy which may include medications ,especially those used to treat cancer (chemotherapy) motor and sports injuries can cause damage to peripheral nerves .Excess use of alcohol ,exposure to certain poisons as well as genetic disorders may bring on peripheral neuropathic disorders .
Peripheral nerves are classified into sensory, motor and autonomic nerves .Every nerve in the Peripheral Nervous System has a function .Symptoms will thus depend on which nerve is affected. Sensory nerves relate to sensation ,(hot and cold) ,pain, vibration and touch .Motor peripheral nerves control one's movement and Autonomic nerves control automated organ functions ,the likes of bowel and bladder control ,heart rate ,blood pressure ,sweating ,swallowing ,etc. Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy issues might include sensory symptoms the likes of numbness to feet and fingers ,pain in one's feet and hands ,tingling sensations ,sharp jabbing electric like shocks and burning sensation to ones feet and hands .Motor sensory symptoms may include lack of co ordination ,falling ,muscle weakness and in severe cases paralysis .Symptoms of autonomic dysfunction include ,bowel, bladder or digestive issues ,irregular heart beats ,atrial fibrillation, drop in blood pressure ,especially when standing up, swallowing issues ,hand tremors .
Peripheral Neuropathy is a debilitating disease which is invisible to the naked eye and can cause extreme pain ,muscle weakness and autonomic dysfunction .
Treatment goals are to manage the condition causing your neuropathy and to relieve symptoms. If your lab tests indicate no underlying condition, your doctor might recommend watchful waiting to see if your neuropathy improves.
Treatment for peripheral neuropathy may include treating any underlying cause or symptoms.
Treatment may be more successful for certain underlying causes. For example, ensuring diabetes is well controlled may help improve neuropathy, or at least stop it getting worse.
Treating the underlying cause
There are many different causes of peripheral neuropathy, some of which can be treated in different ways.
diabetes can sometimes be controlled by lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Most important the control of blood sugar.
vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with B12 injections or tablets
peripheral neuropathy caused by a medicine you're taking may improve if the medicine is stopped
Some less common types of peripheral neuropathy may be treated with medicines, such as:
steroids – powerful anti-inflammatory medicines
immunosuppressants – medicines that reduce the activity of the immune system
injections of immunoglobulin – a mixture of blood proteins called antibodies made by the immune system
But the underlying cause may not always be treatable.
Relieving nerve pain
You may also require medicine to treat any nerve pain (neuropathic pain) you're experiencing.
Unlike most other types of pain, neuropathic pain does not usually get better with common painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, and other medicines are often used.
These should usually be started at the minimum dose, with the dose gradually increased until you notice an effect.
Higher doses may be better at managing the pain, but are also more likely to cause side effects.
The most common side effects are tiredness, dizziness or feeling "drunk". If you get these, it may be necessary to reduce your dose.
Do not drive or operate machinery if you experience drowsiness or blurred vision. You also may become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.
The side effects should improve after a week or two as your body gets used to the medicine.
But if your side effects continue, tell your GP as it may be possible to change to a different medicine that suits you better.
Even if the first medicine tried does not help, others may.
Many of these medicines may also be used for treating other health conditions, such as depression, epilepsy, anxiety or headaches.
If you're given an antidepressant, this may treat pain even if you're not depressed. This does not mean your doctor suspects you're depressed.
The main medicines recommended for neuropathic pain include:
amitriptyline – also used for treatment of headaches and depression.
duloxetine – also used for treatment of bladder problems and depression.
pregabalin and gabapentin, Lyrica – also used to treat epilepsy, headaches or anxiety.
There are also some additional medicines that you can take to relieve pain in a specific area of your body or to relieve particularly severe pain for short periods.