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What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

“Peripheral” means outside of the center. The peripheral nervous system is the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord. “Neuropathy” is disease or dysfunction of one or more of the nerves.  Peripheral Neuropathy is damaged, sick, dying peripheral nerves.

More than 20 million in the US suffer from peripheral neuropathy. The majority are over the age of 45. That’s almost 1 out of 17 Americans have peripheral neuropathy. Many suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy have lost the ability to enjoy  activities they love such as traveling, sports, social events, and enjoying family as a result of the pain, burning, numbness, tingling,difficulty walking, and other symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms?

The most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can include:

  • Burning pain radiating in hands or feet

  • Pins and needles in the extremities

  • Numbness and tingling

  • Weakness in hands, arms,legs and or feet

  • A knotted feeling in the soles and palms

  • Pain from the lightest touches

  • Difficulty walking

  • Pain from the pressure of walking

  • Balance problems

  • Inability to grasp with the hands

  • Cramping of the feet

  • Fingers twisting and locking

  • Cramping of the feet

  • Fingers twisting and locking

  • Pain when twisting the wrists

  • Hands and feet feeling tired or heavy

  • Night pain and sleep difficulty

  • Restless legs and feet

  • Pain that seems to come even from the sheets or covers on your feet at night

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms can be constantly or intermittent.

Symptoms vary according to the type of peripheral neuropathy and may develop quickly or slowly

Types of Peripheral Neuropathy

The 4 main types of peripheral neuropathy:

Sensory peripheral neuropathy – damage to the peripheral nerves that carry messages of touch, temperature, pain, vibration, pressure, and other sensations to the brain

Motor peripheral neuropathy – damage to the nerves that control muscles and movements, such as walking and lifting.

Autonomic peripheral neuropathy – damage to the nerves that control involuntary bodily processes, such as breathing, digestion, blood pressure, and bladder function.

Mononeuropathy Peripheral Neuropathy – damage to a single nerve outside of the central nervous system. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome being the most common type.

Majority of patients with peripheral neuropathy have more than one of these types of peripheral neuropathies at the same time.

Most common peripheral neuropathy is a combination of sensory and motor neuropathy (sensorimotor polyneuropathy).

Peripherial Neuropathy – CNS and PNS

Symptoms of Sensory Peripheral neuropathy can include:

  • Pins and needles in the affected body part most common feet and hands

  • Numbness and tingling with decrease ability to feel pain or changes in temperature most common in hands and feet

  • Burning or sharp pain, usually in the feet and/or hands

  • Increased sensitivity feeling pain from something that should not be painful at all, such as a very light touch

  • Difficulty walking, loss of balance, or coordination caused by less ability to tell the position of the feet or hands

Symptoms of Motor Peripheral Neuropathy can include:

  • Muscle weakness one or more muscles

  • Muscle atrophy -wasting of the muscles

  • Cramping, twitching and muscle spasms

  • Walking difficulty due to loss of motor control of the foot.

  • diarrhoea or constipation often at night

  • feeling bloated and sick

  • tachycardia-rapid heartbeat

  • low blood pressure, which can make you feel dizzy when you stand up from sitting or lying down

  • lack of sweating or excessive sweating or a problems with

  • loss of bowel control issues

  • bladder control issues emptying the bladder of urine

  • sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction in men.

Depending on the specific nerve affected, symptoms of Mononeuropathy Peripheral Neuropathy can include:

  • abnormal sensation or weakness in the toes or fingers

  • Leg and foot pain, weakness or abnormal sensations.

  • weakness of one side of your face causing a droopy face(Bell’s palsy)

  • vision focusing problems, double vision, and eye pain

What are the risk factors and causes of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Metabolic (chemical)

Mechanical (compressive)

Genetic (hereditary)

Metabolic/Chemical - Risk Factors

  • Diabetes

  • Chemotherapy

  • Alcoholism

  • Drugs / Prescription Medication

  • War Toxins / Industrial Toxins

Diabetes is the most common metabolic cause of Peripheral Neuropathy. Nearly 70% of individuals diagnosed with diabetes develop Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. Approximately 86,000 Americans each year undergo diabetic amputations. These amputations are a result of uncontrolled peripheral neuropathy.

Mechanical/Compressive – Risk Factors

Bulged and Herniated Disc(s)

Degenerative Disc(s)

Spinal Stenosis

Mechanical causes of peripheral neuropathy causes are very common, and are most often a result from mechanical joint problems, which compress the nerves that emit from the spine.

In mechanical compressive forms of peripheral neuropathy, the direct physical pressures placed on the nerves by aberrant joint function shuts down the flow of O2 and nutrients to the nerves.

Compressive peripheral neuropathy in the upper or lower spine  (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and/or sacral) nerves can cause functional motor (weakness, stiffness, tightness, constrict) and sensory (numbness, tingling, burning, sharp pain) changes for the nerves of the hip, legs, ankle and feet.


Genetic/Hereditary – Risk Factors

The final category for Neuropathy pertains to genetics or hereditary traits.  They include neurological challenges, such as Friedriech’s Ataxia and Charcot Marie Tooth Disease.  Although these examples of Neuropathy are still extremely significant to those afflicted, these diseases are fairly rare and make up less than 1% of the population.

The Primary Cause of Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy

All living things require nutrients and oxygen and need to be as free of poisons and toxins as possible in order to grow, thrive and prosper.  Your peripheral nerves are NO exception. When functioning normally, nerve tissues receive rich nutrients, and highly-oxygenated blood that is carried by microscopic capillaries, which are tiny-tiny-tiny blood vessels that are easily clogged. The capillaries of an individual with diabetes can clog once a great deal of glucose fills the bloodstream, which can then prevent nerve tissues from receiving the proper nutrients and oxygen necessary for survival. When tiny nutrients and oxygen carrying blood vessels become clogged, constricted and damaged circulation is decreased to the nerves. This reduction in circulation causes nerve tissues to not receive the nutrients and oxygen necessary for survival.  When this happens the peripheral nerves become damaged causing neuropathy.

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