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What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is a condition resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves. These nerves are responsible for transmitting signals between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body. When these nerves are damaged, they can disrupt this important communication link, leading to a range of symptoms that can severely impact a person's quality of life.


Despite its challenges, understanding neuropathy is the first step towards managing it effectively. By increasing our knowledge and awareness of this condition, we can take proactive steps to minimize its impact and maximize our quality of life.


Types of Neuropathy


There are different types of neuropathy, each with its own set of symptoms and causes. The most common type is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves in the hands and feet. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can include numbness, tingling, pain, and muscle weakness in these areas.


Another type is mononeuropathy, which involves damage to a single nerve. This can result from an injury, repetitive stress, or certain medical conditions. Symptoms of mononeuropathy can range from mild to severe and can include loss of sensation, muscle weakness, and pain.


Polyneuropathy, on the other hand, affects multiple nerves. It is often associated with conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and certain types of cancer. One common form of polyneuropathy is distal symmetric polyneuropathy, which typically affects both sides of the body equally and often starts in the hands or feet.


Common Triggers of Neuropathy


While the exact cause of neuropathy is often unknown, there are several known triggers that can lead to the development of this condition. These include certain diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, infections, and inherited disorders.


Diabetes is one of the most common triggers of neuropathy, particularly peripheral neuropathy. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves over time, leading to symptoms like numbness and pain in the hands and feet. Other systemic diseases, like kidney disease and liver disease, can also trigger neuropathy.


Infections, such as Lyme disease, shingles, and HIV, can also lead to neuropathy. These infections can directly damage nerves or trigger an immune response that inadvertently damages nerves. Inherited disorders, like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can also lead to neuropathy.


Symptoms to Watch Out For


Symptoms of neuropathy can vary widely, depending on the type of neuropathy and the specific nerves that are affected. However, there are some common symptoms that many people with neuropathy experience.


One of the most common symptoms is numbness or reduced sensation in the hands or feet. This can make it difficult to feel pain or changes in temperature, which can increase the risk of injury. Other common symptoms include tingling or prickling sensations, muscle weakness, and pain, which is often described as burning, stabbing, or shooting.


Managing Neuropathy in Everyday Life


Living with neuropathy can be challenging, but there are many strategies that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing underlying conditions, and taking medications as prescribed. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can also be beneficial.


If you think you may be suffering from neuropathy, visit Simple Wellness Clinic at our office in West Linn, Oregon. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further nerve damage and improve your quality of life. Call (503) 713-6177 to schedule an appointment today.