Dr. Keni Ravish Rajiv, Consultant Neurologist & Epileptologist, Aster RV Hospital
Peripheral neuropathy, also known as nerve damage, is a common condition that affects everybody at some point in their life and is characterized by the hallmark symptoms of tingling, numbness, pain, and muscular weakness.
Several types of nerve injury fall under the umbrella category of neuropathy. The number of affected nerves can be used to classify all neuropathies; mononeuropathies impact only one nerve, whereas polyneuropathies affect many. They are further divided into categories based on the kind of nerves (motor, sensory, or autonomic) they mostly influence.
Basics of peripheral neuropathy
Your peripheral nervous system (PNS) is a critical component of almost every bodily function, from sensory perception and voluntary motor activities like muscle contraction to autonomic processes like digestion, body temperature control, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Damaged peripheral nerves make it difficult for them to send and receive complete, coherent messages to and from your central nervous system. Physical trauma, an underlying medical condition, a vitamin deficiency, or exposure to poisonous substances are just a few of the many causes of harm.
These nerves may deliver messages that aren’t correct, like static on a phone line, or they may give signals that are warped, like a wavering television image. They might even completely stop signaling, like a damaged line. In injury-induced neuropathy, nerve damage can appear suddenly, as is frequently the case, or it can appear gradually and worsen over time, as is frequently the case with diabetic neuropathy.
Forms of neuropathy and symptoms
Although the type and degree of the symptoms that neuropathy causes are frequently used to characterize it, the first classification of neuropathy is based on how many nerves it affects. There are two primary categories of neuropathy:
One nerve or set of nerves is affected by mononeuropathy. This type of neuropathy can develop from prolonged nerve pressure brought on by spending too much time sitting in a chair or lying in bed, however it is frequently brought on by physical trauma or injury.
Mononeuropathy can also occur as a result of persistent or repetitive movements, local compression, and chronic inflammation. The most prevalent type of mononeuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, generally manifests in just this way.
Symptoms typically manifest locally and widely. When it affects the peroneal nerve below your knee, you may have lower limb weakness that makes it difficult to lift your foot. When it affects the ulnar nerve in your elbow, you may suffer numbness in your elbow and tingling in your ring and pinky fingers radiating from your elbow.
The majority of the time, neuropathy affects many nerves and nerve types, leading to extensive peripheral nervous system dysfunction. This disorder, sometimes referred to as polyneuropathy, typically develops when several peripheral nerves break down simultaneously due to an underlying medical condition.
Depending on the kind, location, and extent of the affected nerves, polyneuropathy symptoms can range from moderate and sporadic to severe and ongoing. Your reflexes and movement might be impacted by injury to your motor nerves, whereas your sensations and sense of balance can be impacted by damage to your sensory nerves.
An erratic heartbeat, excessive perspiration, bowel and bladder issues, enduring gastrointestinal symptoms, and abrupt blood pressure swings that make you feel dizzy or lightheaded are all indicators of autonomic nerve injury.
Options for treating neuropathy
As the majority of peripheral neuropathies are incurable or irreversible, treatment focuses on slowing or halting disease development and delivering long-lasting symptom relief so you can resume your normal, active lifestyle.
Keep your underlying medical condition under control if it’s diabetes that’s the root of your problem if you want to avoid more nerve damage. The majority of neuropathy cases react effectively to specific lifestyle adjustments; many patients discover that maintaining an active lifestyle, eating a healthy diet, and decreasing weight can all significantly reduce the severity of their neuropathy symptoms. Mechanical devices like braces, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are all beneficial