Reasons & Signs Of Neuropathy

By Patricia | August 19, 2009

Your body has an elaborate network of nerves that reaches all parts of the body and is essential for every function. For example, the simple act of lifting a coffee mug involves multiple nerves that transmit message to hundreds of muscles, making them contract and work in unison. This network is broadly classified into the central nervous system and the peripheral, or outer, system. Neuropathy is a medical term that refers to conditions that affects the peripheral nervous system. Again, neuropathy itself is classified based on the types of nerves that are affected, such as motor, sensory or autonomic. The most common form of neuropathy is called ‘peripheral polyneuropathy’ and it affects the nerves on the hands and feet. The symptoms of this condition vary from person to person and may involve pain in the nerve endings, muscle weakness, cramps, loss of balance or dizziness, and extreme sensitivity to touch; however, neuropathy covers a wide range of disorders and conditions that are not easily diagnosed.

The causes of neuropathy are also varied. They range from physical reasons, such as a tumor putting pressure on a nerve to electro-chemical imbalances in the body. Some doctors consider lifestyle conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome to be a form of neuropathy as well. Diabetes is another major cause of neuropathy and around 60 percent of diabetics suffer from some level of nerve damage. There are no specific cures for neuropathy. Doctors will usually attempt to treat the symptoms, focusing on pain relief. Neuropathic pain is chronic in nature, which means it requires long-term, consistent treatment. However, it is difficult to treat and only about half the patients get significant relief. Generally, neuropathic pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications. Doctors usually prescribe stronger drugs including depressants, opiods, and topical anesthetics. In some states, naturally occurring ingredients such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are being examined for the treatment of chronic pain. However, studies are still underway to assess any long-term side effects associated with THC usage. Doctors are also exploring usage of artificial cannabinoids such as nabilone.

If you suffer from any of the common symptoms of neuropathy, it is advisable to visit a specialist at the earliest. Any form of treatment can only be considered after an in-depth examination of your specific symptoms. For example, the recommended treatment for diabetic neuropathy will be completely different from that of post-stroke neuropathy, even if the symptoms are similar.

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