Neuropathy is a disease characterized by abnormal electrical activity in the nerves. The symptoms include numbness or paralysis of one or more extremities, such as fingers, toes, arms or legs. In some cases, it causes weakness and problems with breathing. A person may experience pain when touching certain parts of their body. There are different types of nerve damage associated with neuropathy. These include peripheral neuropathies (nerve damage in other areas), central nervous system diseases (neuropathic pain) and systemic disorders (pain from multiple organs).
There are several types of neurological conditions, including:
1. Central Nervous System Diseases: These include Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and others.
2. Peripheral Nervous System Disorders: These include Syringomyelia, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Spina Bifida and others.
3. Neurologic Conditions Associated With Drug Abuse: Alcoholism, Opiate Addiction and Substance Dependence are examples of these conditions.
The most common form of neuropathy is called “central” or “peripheral”.
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nerves. These nerves are in your arms, hands, legs and feet. They carry messages between your brain and the rest of your body. When they do not work properly, you may experience a tingling, painful or burning sensation in those areas. You may also lose touch with hot or cold sensations or have difficulty moving your arms or legs.
Systemic diseases are conditions that affect your whole body. They include heart disease, kidney failure, anemia and others. They affect your body’s ability to heal itself.
The most common types of peripheral neuropathy are:
1. Diabetic Neuropathy – Diabetes is a long-term condition that affects the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
When diabetics suffer from diabetic neuropathy, they may experience tingling, burning, aching or pain in the hands, feet, legs or arms. They may also experience numbness, the loss of reflexes and muscle weakness. Without treatment, the diabetic may lose feeling in their feet and have difficulty walking to dangerous levels.
2. Alcoholic Neuropathy – Alcoholic neuropathy occurs in alcoholics who consume dangerous levels of alcohol for an extended period of time.
It is a type of peripheral neuropathy that primarily affects the sensory nerves of the skin, causing tingling, burning, aching and itching sensations.
3. Inflammatory Neuropathy – Inflammatory neuropathy is caused by autoimmune disorders, when the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
It affects approximately 1 in 100 people and can be triggered by genetics, viruses or exposure to toxic substances. This type of neuropathy often affects the arms and legs and causes pain, burning, tingling and numbness.
4. Inherited Neuropathy – Some people are born with a tendency to develop various types of peripheral neuropathies.
They can experience pain, tingling, numbness and loss of reflexes in the arms, hands, legs or feet. The condition is also known as hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy (HSAN).
5. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – Also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSDS), this type of peripheral neuropathy causes intense burning pain, swelling and sensitivity to touch.
It is often triggered by an injury, but many people can experience it without any obvious cause.
6. Acute Polyneuropathy – Also known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, this type of peripheral neuropathy is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that attacks the peripheral nervous system.
It causes tingling and numbness that spreads throughout the body. Severe cases can cause paralysis and respiratory failure.
7. Tumor Symptoms – It is possible for tumors to develop in the peripheral nervous system, which can cause numbness, tingling, weakness and loss of reflexes.
They are most often benign, but can also be cancerous. Physicians should always check for the symptoms before beginning treatment for peripheral neuropathy.
The pain of peripheral neuropathy can range from an annoying tingling to burning sensations and can increase in intensity throughout the day or even after consuming certain foods.
The most common types of peripheral neuropathy include:
There are many reasons why you might experience numbness or tingling in your hands and feet. The following are the most common causes:
1. Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels that nourish nerves.
This makes your nerves unable to send messages to the brain.
2. Alcoholism: Heavy alcohol consumption is toxic to all cells, including nerve cells.
3. Lack of vitamin B12: This vitamin keeps your nerves healthy.
4. Certain prescription drugs: Some drugs, like the antibiotics linezolid and parenteral amphotericin B, as well as the cancer drug vincristine, can damage peripheral nerves.
5. Autoimmune disorders: Problems with the body’s immune system can launch an attack on the myelin sheath that protects nerves.
This is called a demyelinating disease.
6. Metabolic disorders: Rare genetic disorders, such as Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff diseases, can damage the nervous system.
7. Cellulitis or skin infection: An infection in the skin can spread into nearby tissues and muscles, including areas close to nerves.
8. Kidney disease: Poor kidney function can cause a buildup of toxins in the body, which can damage nerve cells.
9. Dehydration: Not having enough water can affect the way your nerves function, causing them to malfunction and become sensitive to stimuli like heat and cold.
10. Autoimmune disorders: Some people are genetically predisposed to develop autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome. These disorders can cause the body’s immune system to attack and damage the healthy tissue of the peripheral nervous system.
11. Postherpetic neuralgia: This is a complication of shingles, a condition caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus (varicella-zoster). Shingles causes a painful, itchy rash that typically only affects one side of the body, along with fever and chills. The rash resolves itself within two to four weeks, but in some people the virus remains in the body and can resurface in the form of shingles later in life. Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication that occurs in approximately 40 percent of shingles cases in people over 60, and can cause long-term pain and burning sensations, even when no rash is present.
12. Pressure on the nerves: Pressure can squash nerves against bones, or push them out of their normal position. The most common cause is a tumor, either cancerous or non-cancerous.
13. Inflammatory arthritis: Certain types of inflammatory arthritis, like ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause pain and inflammation in joints throughout the body. It can even trigger nerve problems.
14. Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage tiny vessels in the body, including those that supply nerves.
15. Vitamin B12 deficiency: A lack of this vitamin can affect nerve function and contribute to anemia.
16. Childhood adversity: Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse during childhood is linked to a greater risk of developing certain autoimmune disorders as an adult, including multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
17. Chest trauma: Having a broken rib or a collapsed lung can put pressure on the nerves in the chest and abdomen.
18. Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is caused by nervous system disorder that affects one of the main nerve pathways in the body, resulting in tingling, weakness, and loss of sensation in the fingers. Repetitive hand and wrist motions at work or repetitive movements from hobbies at home can worsen the condition.
19. Puumonca virus: This virus is extremely common. Most people never develop symptoms, but in some it causes a range of autoimmune disorders, including myasthenia gravis, sympathetic paralysis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
20. Adrenal fatigue: This term was coined by alternative medicine proponents to describe an array of vague symptoms that can include fatigue, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Its existence is not accepted by the medical community.
The knowledge that myasthenia gravis had run in your family was extremely alarming for you, and after reading up on it, you realized you had a lot symptoms of the condition as well. You made an appointment with your primary care physician, who did some blood tests and confirmed that you had a low level of thryoid hormones, and that this was putting a great deal of stress on your immune system. He placed you on a low dose of the hormone, and your energy levels and mood significantly improved. At your next follow-up appointment, a full blood panel revealed that your thyroid levels were normalizing, and he decided to take you off the medication, thoroughly impressed by how quickly your symptoms had improved.
“From now on,” he said. “whenever I start to feel tired or run down, I’m going to start testing my thyroid.”
[contributed by: addisoncraig]
READ ORIGINAL STORY HERE
ORIGINAL ARTICLE PREFACE: There are a lot of myths about multiple sclerosis (MS), so here are 20 facts that everyone should know.