The peripheral nerves constitute a complex network that connects the spinal cord and the brain to other organs. It connects them to the skin, muscles, and internal organs. The nerves arrange themselves in lines or dermatomes as they extend from the spinal cord. Therefore, damage to a nerve may affect several dermatomes in specific areas of the body.
Damage to nerves disconnects communication between the brain and other body parts. It prevents normal sensation in the hands and feet. It also impairs movement in the muscles, affecting the arms and legs. Worse still, it causes pain that can be so severe it can render you helpless.
Damage to the nerves can happen in various ways that affect different parts. It is often difficult to pinpoint why you may have neuropathic pain. However, studies show that it may occur due to the following reasons.
Trauma is an acquired neuropathy. It may refer to injuries or solutions to injuries that may apply pressure to nerves. The pressure may damage the peripheral nerves or even sever them. Solutions like casts or using crutches can also cause damage to nerves because of the pressure they apply. Therefore, be careful when you have crutches or a plaster cast. Be attentive to any tingling or pain you may feel in your extremities after putting it on your limb.
Some trauma can also result from repetitive actions like typing, weight lifting, and assembly line work. Be careful if you do a lot of work that involves other repetitive physical activities.
In this case, neuropathy can result from poor nutrition, disease-related malabsorption, alcoholism, or vitamin deficiency. Therefore, you should be mindful of what you eat and keep a healthy diet. A lack of vitamins like B12 can damage the myelin sheath causing dysfunction of nerves. You can find B12 in meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and milk.
You can also take supplements or get an injection if you are deficient. However, be careful because excess nutrient consumption can also lead to neuropathy. For example, too much B6 can be toxic to the nerves.
Diseases and their medication can also lead to neuropathy. Like some antibiotics, cancer and epilepsy treatments may cause neuropathy as a side effect. More than half of people with diabetes will develop neuropathy at some point. Infections like HIV and Lyme disease can also trigger neuropathy.
These are not common, but some neuropathies pass on from a parent to their child. The most common of these diseases is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1. It results from degeneration of the nerve insulation that helps to conduct electrical impulses which trigger muscle movement. The neuropathy causes leg weakness which may also extend to the arms.
Therefore, get to know if any hereditary neuropathies are running in your family. It will help you prepare and find out if there are ways to mitigate them.
Idiopathic neuropathies constitute a third of all neuropathies. They are from unknown causes. Therefore, their diagnosis may take time, and their treatments may vary.
For more information on neuropathy, visit the Greater Nashville Health Institute at our Gallatin, Nashville office. Call (615) 583-4006 to schedule an appointment today.