Neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves in any part of the body. Even a slight injury can disrupt the communication between the brain and the peripheral nervous system. It can be a single nerve, two nerves or a group of nerves receiving the damage. Neuropathy is a very broad term and often classification is made according to the location of the damaged nerves or the diseases responsible for it.
Types of neuropathy:
This occurs when there is damage to the nerves which fall outside the brain and the spinal cord. These nerves are called the peripheral nerves and the condition is known as peripheral neuropathy. Polyneuropathy means that that a group of nerves or several nerves have been damaged and this usually causes symptoms to arise on both the sides of the body. Diabetic neuropathy is also a common cause of polyneuropathy.
The symptoms of polyneuropathy are described as a burning, tingling or a numbing sensation in the hands, feet, wrists or arms. The main causes of polyneuropathy are diabetes, vitamin B deficiency, exposure to harmful toxins and radioactive compounds, chemotherapy, immunosuppressive diseases, alcoholism and poor nutrition.
Hereditary neuropathy such as the Charcot-Marie tooth is also a type of peripheral neuropathy. This type of neuropathy develops at an early stage and may pass on from parent to child for generations.
Polyneuropathy covers these forms of neuropathy: diabetic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, alcoholism neuropathy, chemotherapy induced neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy.
Mononeuropathy is when a single nerve of the peripheral nervous system is damaged and is sending distorted pain signals to the brain. Mononeuropathy occurs when a nerve is damaged due to trauma or an accident. Often when a nerve is under a lot of pressure due to a prolonged illness, paralysis or bed confinement, the protective shock-absorbing disc surrounding the nerve is damaged exposing the nerve to extreme pressure.
Repetitive hand movements, wrist movements or extensive strain on a single nerve also causes nerve damage. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the main cause of mononeuropathy which occurs in workers who are typing too long on a computer, are assembly line workers or are using single motion for long periods.
This type of neuropathy causes pain and tingling in the arms or the wrists.
Neuropathy pain can be treated with medications and creams. If neuropathy is treated at an earliest stage there is a chance of reversing its symptoms but long term neuropathies cannot be healed, they can only be treated and prevented from getting worse.