Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy is the damage of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is responsible for sending pain signals to the brain after an injury or an illness in the body. But in the case of neuropathy, the nerves themselves are damaged, sending random pain signals that manifest as discomfort or strange sensations in various parts of the body.
Neuropathy hardly happens without any known cause. However, if it does, it is identified as idiopathic neuropathy. The patient experiences the same symptoms, but their healthcare provider can’t determine the cause.
In many cases, neuropathy causes are ruled out through physical examination, blood tests, imaging tests, and nerve tests. To improve the symptoms of tingling, stabbing, and burning sensations, the doctor treats or manages the underlying cause. Medical experts may also prescribe medications to target the neuropathy pain in itself. Still, it is highly recommended that the patient undergoes a thorough diagnostic procedure to determine the actual trigger and identify the most appropriate treatment.
Neuropathy causes are widely varied and could be any of the following.
Diabetes, or the chronic metabolic disease involving the body’s ability to use glucose or blood sugar, is the most common cause of neuropathy. The high sugar levels strain the tiny blood vessels that supply nutrients to the nerves, causing gradual damage.
The condition is also called diabetic polyneuropathy, where pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and random sensation are often felt in the hands, legs, and feet. This type of nerve damage becomes more likely the longer that a patient retains poorly controlled blood sugar levels.
According to research, one in four people who have diabetes may experience nerve damage, which is irreversible. It’s a serious complication that can be quite painful and debilitating. One way for patients to reduce their symptoms, or at least slow down the progress of neuropathy, is to ensure they manage their glucose levels through medication and a significant lifestyle change.
Different peripheral nerves may suffer from damage due to diabetes. The affected nerves determine the type of neuropathy in patients. Since diabetes is a known risk factor, patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should be screened for neuropathy immediately, and those with type 1 diabetes should be screened five years after diagnosis and yearly after the initial testing.