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Neuropathy 101: What is it and How is it Treated?

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Neuropathy is a term referring to various diseases affecting the nerves. There are 100 billion nerves found in the body, which works by transmitting messages to the brain and back. Every sensation people feel, such as pain, tingling, cold and hot temperatures, among others, are transmitted by nerve cells in various points.

When these nerves malfunction, it is called neuropathy. There are many types of neuropathy, including peripheral neuropathy, cranial neuropathy, focal neuropathy, and autonomic neuropathy, which occur depending on the location. Neuropathy treatment in Long Beach involves resolving the underlying condition, therapies, and medications, to name a few.

The Types of Neuropathy

There are four major types of neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type and is usually seen in patients with diabetes. The peripheral nervous system works by connecting the nerves from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body, including the feet, hands, arms, legs, mouth, internal organs, and the face. Meanwhile, cranial neuropathy happens when all the 12 cranial nerves that are found in the face and head become damaged. Focal neuropathy occurs when the affected nerves are found in one area of the body and autonomic neuropathy involves the involuntary nervous system, which controls blood flow, circulation in the heart, bladder function, digestion, perspiration, and sexual response.

What Causes Neuropathy?

There are various causes of neuropathy, but the most common is diabetes. In this condition, the blood sugar levels elevate, leading to nerve damage. The condition is termed as diabetic neuropathy and usually happens in people who have problems controlling their blood glucose levels. Other causes of neuropathy include vitamin deficiencies, alcohol abuse, certain infections such as HIV, botulism, chronic liver disease, Lyme disease, physical damage to nerves from injury, and certain types of cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of neuropathy depend on the type of nerves involved. For instance, in peripheral neuropathy, people may experience tingling or numbness in the feet or arms, sharp pain in the feet, muscle weakness, loss of balance, pain, and discomfort in the extremities, and loss of sensation. In autonomic neuropathy, people may experience dry feet and cracked skin, particularly if perspiration is involved. Other people experience cramps, muscle twitching, emotional disturbances, inability to sweat properly, cold intolerance, heat intolerance, and bladder problems, to name a few.

Neuropathy Treatment

The major treatment for neuropathy is to control and relieve the symptoms. In many cases, the condition may resolve if the underlying illness, like diabetes, is managed and treated. Further, some medicines are also available to relieve the discomfort caused by neuropathy. In some people, surgery is recommended, especially if the cause of the condition is compression of the nerve. Modern therapies are also available for patients with neuropathy.

The nerves are vital functional units of the brain, making us live, survive, and perform daily tasks in the most comfortable way possible. When these nerves become damaged, pain and discomfort may occur. It is important to detect the condition early so doctors can initiate treatments right away.

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