Have you ever slept on your arm for some hours and awakened with the hand dead? If your answer is yes, then you have an inkling of what neuropathy feels like in some cases. The tingling and numbness are part of the daily experience of a person with neuropathy.
Neuropathy is a term to describe the general inability of the nerves to function properly. It is mostly as a result of injuries, different diseases, infections and vitamin deficiency in some cases. Neuropathy can either be classified according to the illness causing it or the type or location of the affected nerves.
What is peripheral neuropathy?
This is a general term for diseases that damage the nerves that are outside the brain or spinal cord. It is mainly caused by metabolic conditions, including kidney disorders and diabetes. It can also be the result of too much toxicity from medications of alcohol.
When nerves are affected by any form of peripheral neuropathy, they send confused signals back to the brain. For example, nerves might send a message of pain when there is none or fail to send pain signals even when something is harming you.
What are the different types of peripheral neuropathy and how do they affect the body?
Diabetes causes this in most cases. It affects the nerves that relay information from different areas of the body to the brain. The information sent varies from the texture of objects, how hot or cold they are or pain as a result of a sharp or hot object. Sensory neuropathy can result in pain, lack of sensitivity to cold, heat, pain in the affected areas.
This type of neuropathy affects those nerves that are responsible for involuntary activities in the body. These activities include actions of the bladder, stomach, intestines or even the heart. Autonomic neuropathy can cause impotence in men, bloated stomach and, in cases where the bladder is affected, an inability to empty correctly and comprehensively.
This affects those nerves that communicate with muscles to activate motions such as moving fingers or walking. Diabetes rarely causes this type of neuropathy.
The main consequence of motor neuropathy is muscle weakness
Many times people complain about pain without knowing what is causing the pain. Sometimes men will complain about a diminished ability to have an erection or maintain one. There are several tests or clinical observations that may lead a physician to diagnose neuropathy. These include nerve conduction studies or measuring muscle response to electrical impulses (electromyography).