What is Neuropathy?

What is neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy? It is is a neurological disorder. It’s symptoms indicate nerve damage in the extremities. In this disease our nerve signals are mixed up. They indicate false pains or feelings that are different than we are used to.

What are the diabetic neuropathy symptoms? It’s symptoms are a burning, tingling, pin point prickly sensations, numbness, shooting needle pains and cold extremities like the hands, feet, arms and legs. It can cause weakness, difficulty in walking, coordination or effect our vital organ functioning.

When you touch things the neuropathy can cause unpleasant sensations. these sensations can be little electric needles, burning, itching, cold sensations or numbness. With some people it also causes an absence of feeling in feet, toes, fingers, hands and sometimes carpel tunnel syndrome.

My introduction to neuropathy happened one Sunday afternoon. My relatives were in town and my family took them all to the beach. I was home with my dog lying on my lap. My right upper body began tingling like I had pinched a nerve. I was tired, so I went and laid down for a nap. When I awoke a couple hours later my entire right side was numb and tingling. I was split exactly down the middle from head to toe.

I had high blood sugar and high blood pressure. This caused a stroke. The next day I also had the sensation that I had a stick under the heel in my right shoe. Fortunately as things improved this went away. After my sugars came under control my tingling and coldness receded to being only in my right foot and hand. My foot, hand and right arm are cold sensitive while my left side of the body is normal. Read my Diabetic Story.

There are other potential problems from neuropathy.

Neuropathy can effect the sexual response of men or women. With men their sex drive may be the same, but they may have difficulties with achieving an erection. A women may have difficulty with becoming aroused, lubrication or orgasm.

Nerve damage may cause constipation. It can also cause digestive problems. Nerve damage can cause poor regulation of blood pressure. For some, sitting or standing can cause a drop in pressure bringing on lightheaded feelings. It could also cause your heart rate to remain high longer than it should after activity.

Sweat glands may not work properly leading to the body not cooling itself properly. The eyes pupils may not work correctly which may cause problems driving at night. It may also take longer to adjust to low light in darker rooms.

Shortly after my stroke and realization that I was diabetic, I experienced the difficulty with lights at night. For about a month I did not drive at night. My night vision is much better, but I still do not feel as comfortable with the lights at night as I once did.

What are the causes of neuropathy?

Auto Immune Disorders - Auto immune disease or infections.

Cancer - Nerve compression or infiltration by a tumor.

Diabetes - It’s the most common cause of neuropathy.

Drug Induced Toxicology - As in Chemotherapy, Drug intoxication and toxic chemical exposure at work.

Genetic or Heredity - A disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease.

No Known Cause - For those over 60, sometimes no cause is known.

Nutritional and Gasto-Intestinal - Alcoholism, Malnutrition or Surgical.

Other Diseases - Chronic Inflammation, Hepatitis C, Herpes, Lyme disease, HIV Aids, Viral Infections and others.

Physical or Spinal Injury- Injuries or compressions of the spine can also cause this condition.

Stroke- Fortunately over time many of the symptoms caused by stroke can lessen.

Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy

There are not a lot of treatment options. At the present time doctors know of no cure. There are drugs with their side effects and interactions. Electro shock or nerve stimulation which some have found helpful. Topical ointments, marijuana and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) are other treatments.

For diabetics the best treatment is getting your blood sugars under control with proper diet and exercise. Avoid alcohol, quit smoking, and take supplements to correct diet deficiencies. Improving to the point of coming off diabetic medication should be the goal of every type 2 diabetic.

In the case of those with drug induced or industrial toxicology the treatment is to discontinue the offending drug or to detox the patient.

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