You may have felt what it is like to have your leg “fall asleep.” It is an uncomfortable feeling but it usually goes away with walking around and getting the circulation going. However, there is a condition where this sensation may not go away.
The peripheral nerves branch out from the brain and spinal cord to all the muscles, skin, and internal organs of the body. These nerves are arranged along lines called dermatomes. If nerve damage occurs and affects any of these dermatomes, it creates miscommunications between the brain and other areas of the body. It can impair muscle functioning, cause pain, and produce abnormal sensations to the extremities.
Types of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is common and affects people over the age of 55 than any other age group. Neuropathies are usually categorized according to the problems they create or the cause of nerve damage. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common neuropathy and diabetes is known to create peripheral nerve damage.
If the damage is isolated to a single peripheral nerve, it is referred to as mononeuropathy. Accidents that cause physical trauma to the affected nerve is a common cause. Any prolonged pressure on the nerve such as lying in bed or sitting in a wheelchair can cause mononeuropathy. Continuous, repetitive motions will lead to a common type of mononeuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome. It is an injury of overuse strain, which occurs when the nerve in the wrist (carpal tunnel) is compressed.
Polyneuropathy is the more common of the two peripheral neuropathies. It entails multiple peripheral nerve involvement and can be caused by a variety of situations. The fact that it is frequently found in diabetics makes diabetic neuropathy the most common form of chronic polyneuropathy.
The symptoms of polyneuropathy are:
– Loss of sensation in the arms and legs
With having chronic polyneuropathy, people may lose the ability to feel pain and sense temperature. It is easy for them to develop sores, especially on the feet, or burn themselves and not know it. Depending on the nerve involvement, they can also have decreased sensation of needing to urinate or defecate, leading to loss of bowel or bladder control.
Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
The origin of any peripheral neuropathy may be hard to find. Below are some of the acquired neuropathies:
– Kidney or thyroid disease
– Poor nutrition or vitamin deficiency
– Certain kinds of cancer and chemotherapy used to treat them
– Conditions where body’s immune system attacks the nerves
– Certain medications
– Several rare inherited diseases
– Infections such as Lyme disease, shingles, or AIDS.
The following treatments will depend on the type of peripheral neuropathy a person has. One or more treatments may be used in conjunctions with other therapies to enhance pain control and reduce inflammation.
– Pain relievers
– Anti-seizure medication
– Immunosuppressive medications
– Lidocaine patch
– Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
– Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin
– Hand or foot braces
– Physical Therapy