Neuropathy is a disease that affects the peripheral nerve system and destroys motor, sensory and autonomic nerves. It causes pain and loss of sensation in the long run, body weakness and paralysis in the extreme cases. The condition makes the body lose it reflex ability and causes muscles atrophy. Its causes include carpal tunnel syndrome, poliomyelitis, diabetes, leprosy, injury, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism, syphilis and herpes zoster (shingles). The condition could be acquired or genetic.
Neuropathy information is crucial to the treatment and control of the disease. It is important to understand that neuropathy refers to a number of diseases or injuries to the nerve or nerve cells. It is of various kinds and affects as many as 20 million Americans. The condition is also called peripheral neuropathy as it affects nerves outside the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Patients suffer from either mono-neuropathy or poly-neuropathy. In mono-neuropathy, there is only one part of the nerve affected and it is easy to find the cause, hence better neuropathy treatment. However, in the case of poly-neuropathy, there are multiple damaged nerves and treatment is difficult as any place could be the source. Peripheral neuropathy causes pain which results from the damaged and dysfunctional nerves.
Though neuropathy is unique to each individual, there are several common neuropathy symptoms that can be observed amongst the patients. The early detection of neuropathic signs enables better management and prevents a lot of damage. Neuropathic symptoms include shocks and burning pain, tingling and numbness of the foot and hands, weak hands and leg joints, feeling of electric shocks and pain while walking, poor balance, lack of rhythm while walking and poor grasping ability. Thinning of the skin is also another common symptom. Most neuropathic cases differ in their progression from an infant stage to a fully blown out condition. In some cases, the disease shows symptoms early but develops slowly. In other instances, there is a plateau phase, where the same signs are observed for a long time without much development of the disease. However, in other cases the progress is faster and one can easily become disabled.
Neuropathy treatment is dependant on many factors. The first of these is the primary cause of the disease. It also depends on the neuropathy signs the patient will be exhibiting at the time of the diagnosis. There are several treatments available but none of them completely cures the condition. Most of the treatments are majorly concerned with controlling the pain. The primary cause of the disease plays a key role in the success of whichever method one uses. By treating the primary cause, the condition will get better by itself. Some of the treatments used include administering pain relievers that are non-steroids,. However, in acute cases, morphine-based pain killers are used. If the condition is caused by lack of vitamins or any dietary deficiency, supplements are administered.
Modern technology allows for electrical stimulation of the dysfunctional nerves. Tricyclic anti-depressants are also used. The patients are also placed under physician supervised exercise. Patients can also use a Lidocaine patch which is normally applied to the painful areas. There are several alternative medicines used including oriental medicine. Oriental remedies use techniques such as acupuncture to relieve the muscles and distribute body energy.
Since there is no cure yet for the peripheral neuropathy condition, it is advisable to prevent it from occurring. This is possible by observing a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and regular but careful exercise. It is also possible to lead a normal life with neuropathy if one makes use of the neuropathy information available online and from organizations such as the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, Neuropathy Association and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.