Understanding the Different Types of Neuropathy and Their Causes

Neuropathy is a complex and diverse group of disorders affecting the peripheral nerves. These nerves send signals between the central nervous system and the body, letting you function every day. With them, you can sense touch, temperature, and pain, all while controlling your muscle movement.


Neuropathy can manifest variously with the nerves affected and the underlying cause. Its symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain. It can also lead to problems with your balance and coordination. In some cases, it affects motor skills.



Diabetic Neuropathy


Diabetic neuropathy stems from prolonged high blood sugar levels that damage the nerves. It affects the nerves in the hands and feet, resulting in numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the affected area.


Several factors influence the development of diabetic neuropathy, including the duration of diabetes and poor blood sugar control. The condition is closely associated with high blood pressure and obesity. Individuals with diabetes must manage their blood sugar levels. Medication, diet, and lifestyle changes can help them prevent or delay the onset of neuropathy.



Peripheral Neuropathy 


Peripheral neuropathy impairs the function of the peripheral nerves connecting the brain and spinal cord to the body’s muscles, skin, and organs. Its known causes include physical trauma, infections, exposure to toxins, and metabolic disorders.


Peripheral neuropathy symptoms begin in the feet and move up the legs or hands, usually manifesting in tingling or prickling sensations. You may also experience muscle weakness, loss of coordination, and sensitivity to touch. Neuropathy can lead to foot ulcers or infections in some cases. These need prompt medical attention to prevent complications.



Hereditary Neuropathy 


Hereditary neuropathies are rare. The conditions affecting the peripheral nerves result from genetic mutations that interfere with the functioning of the nerves. Its symptoms appear in childhood or adolescence, progressing over time. The symptoms include muscle weakness, difficulty walking, foot deformities, and sensory loss. 


There is currently no cure for hereditary neuropathies. Treatment can focus on managing symptoms and providing supportive care to improve quality of life.



Chemotherapy-induced Neuropathy 


Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy is due to some cancer treatments. The potent medications used in chemotherapy damage the nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, and pain. The severity and duration of this type of neuropathy varies among individuals. 


Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy often presents in a glove and stocking distribution. It affects the hands, feet, and sometimes other body areas. Symptoms may resolve on their own after treatment completion, but others may experience long-term or even permanent nerve damage. 



Idiopathic Neuropathy 


Idiopathic neuropathy occurs in cases where the exact cause of nerve damage is unknown. Despite extensive testing, no underlying medical condition or specific reason has been identified. Its diverse symptoms need ongoing management to control the associated pain and discomfort.



Neuropathy From Autoimmune Disorders


Some autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can cause neuropathy. In these conditions, the immune system attacks the body’s tissues, including the nerves. It leads to inflammation and nerve damage. Symptoms vary with the autoimmune disorder, but weakness, pain, and sensory disturbances are common.


For more information on different types of neuropathy and their causes, visit Pleasant Life Health Center at our office in Daniel Island, South Carolina. Call (843) 428-7900 to book an appointment today.

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