Information on Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral nerves are a collection of nerve fibers that originate from many different kinds of neurons. Motor fibers originate from motor neurons that are located in the spinal cord. Sensory axons originate from neurons that are located outside the spinal cord in large clusters called gangliaPeripheral nerves are a collection of nerve fibers that originate from many different kinds of neurons. Motor fibers originate from motor neurons that are located in the spinal cord. Sensory axons originate from neurons that are located outside the spinal cord in large clusters called ganglia. The ganglia that contain the sensory neurons for the leg are located in the low back region (called the lumbar and sacral levels); those for the arm are located in the neck (called the cervical region). Each of these ganglia contains many thousands of sensory neurons.
Peripheral neuropathy affects men and women equally. Older adults (those 55 to 60 or over) are most likely to develop peripheral neuropathy. However, a mononeuropathy such as carpal tunnel syndrome may affect younger adults who use computers extensively, or who work in situations requiring repetitive motions. Some inherited conditions that cause nerve damage can strike during childhood.
The Facts on Neuropathy
Neuropathy, also called peripheral neuropathy, refers to damage to the peripheral nerves - nerves that carry information between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by a number of different medical conditions, such as diabetes and cancer. It can interfere with the senses, with movement, or with the function of internal organs. Damage to one nerve is called mononeuropathy, while damage to many nerves all at once is called polyneuropathy.
The Three Types of Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is defined by the type of nerve that is damaged. Sensory neuropathy affects nerves which sense pain, touch, temperature, etc. Motor neuropathy affects the nerves which control voluntary muscle movements, such as the flexing and extending of the arms and legs. Autonomic neuropathy affects involuntary bodily functions such as breathing, digestion, blood pressure, and other organ functions. Peripheral neuropathy can be broken down further into single area disturbance (mononeuropathy) or multi-area disturbances (polyneuropathy.)
The goal of treatment for patients with diabetic neuropathy is to alleviate symptoms and prevent progression of neuropathy. The treatment options for patients with diabetic neuropathy are similar to patients with nondiabetic peripheral neuropathy as discussed above. As is the case for peripheral neuropathy in general, treatment of diabetic neuropathy is primarily focused on controlling and reducing the severity of the symptoms.
To treat peripheral neuropathy, it might be necessary to control the cause. If a person has an illness such as diabetes or MS, the goal is to regulate that illness to minimize the nerve damage. If a nerve is being compressed (carpal tunnel syndrome), a person might need to change his posture or routine in order to relieve the stress placed on those nerves. Occasionally, surgery is performed to correct a case of nerve compression. Vitamin deficiencies can be treated with oral vitamins or a better diet. If a person is having a reaction to a medication, then that med might be discontinued.
Antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressant medications, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline (Pamelor), were originally developed to treat depression. However, they have been found to help relieve pain by interfering with chemical processes in your brain and spinal cord that cause you to feel pain. The selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor duloxetine (Cymbalta) also has proved effective for peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes.
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