Peripheral neuropathy (Webberley: 2017), refers to a problem with the peripheral nerves. These nerves send messages from the central peripheral neuropathy, a result of damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves), often causes weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in your hands and feet. It can also affect other areas of your body.
The peripheral nervous system sends information from the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of the body. The peripheral nerves also send sensory information to the central nervous system.
Traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes, and exposure to toxins, can cause peripheral neuropathy, however, diabetes mellitus is one of the most common causes. People suffering from peripheral neuropathy usually describe the pain as stabbing, burning, or tingling Depending on the condition especially if caused by a treatable condition, the symptoms improve in many cases. Medications can reduce the pain of peripheral neuropathy.
Types of Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is when the nerve problem affects the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. These nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system. Accordingly, peripheral neuropathy is neuropathy that affects the nerves of the extremities – the toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, and arms. The term proximal neuropathy has been used to refer to nerve damage that specifically causes pain in the shoulders, thighs, hips, or buttocks.
Cranial neuropathy occurs when any of the twelve cranial nerves (nerves that exit from the brain directly) are damaged. Two specific types of cranial neuropathy are optic neuropathy and auditory neuropathy. Optic neuropathy refers to damage or disease of the optic nerve that transmits visual signals from the retina of the eye to the brain. Auditory neuropathy involves the nerve that carries signals from the inner ear to the brain and is responsible for hearing.
Autonomic neuropathy is damage to the nerves of the involuntary nervous system. These nerves control the heart and circulation (including blood pressure), digestion, bowel and bladder function, the sexual response, and perspiration. Nerves in other organs may also be affected.
Focal neuropathy is neuropathy that is restricted to one nerve or group of nerves, or one area of the body.
Treatment options for peripheral Neuropathy
Treatment is based on treating the underlying disorder. If diabetes is the cause, blood glucose control is important. If a vitamin deficiency is causing the problem, then correcting the deficiency is the treatment. Many treatments can bring relief and help regular activities. Sometimes a combination of treatments works best.
Over the counter (OTC) pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can control moderate pain. If you take them in excess, these drugs can affect the liver or stomach function, it is important to avoid using them for an extended period, especially if you drink alcohol regularly.