Neuropathy is a very common condition that is estimated to affect 20 million adults in the United States alone, the true number may be even higher due to unreported cases. It isn’t one specific health condition but more of a broad term used to describe ailments related to dysfunction in the peripheral nerves. This blog will explain what neuropathy is, what causes it, and how it affects people.
Peripheral neuropathy, as it is often referred to, relates to the loss or distortion of signals to the brain in the peripheral nervous system. In other others, the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. These take three forms:
Sensory nerves are those that relay information from the senses to the brain: taste, touch, smell, etc. Motor nerves control movement (walking, picking something up, etc.) and autonomic nerves control bodily functions out with your direct control. For example, if you exercise and raise your core temperature, the autonomic nerves trigger sweat to cool the body back down. All three can be affected by neuropathy.
It can affect a single nerve (mononeuropathy) or multiple (polyneuropathy). And the latter is more common. There are many causes of neuropathy both acquired and genetic. The most common is diabetes which accounts for around 70% of cases. Other causes include injuries from accidents or falls and the stress from repetitive movements. Autoimmune disorders and infections are another cause, as are certain medications such as chemotherapy. And vascular disorders, vitamin deficiencies, and alcoholism can also cause neuropathy. That’s certainly not an exhaustive list. So in some cases, there’s no known cause.
Researchers have identified over 100 types of neuropathy. But it most commonly will affect the hands and feet. As the extremities are furthest from the central nervous system, they are the nerves most prone to damage or distortion. It can be a burning or tingling feeling in the hands and feet. Or the absence of feeling at all. In some cases neuropathy can take the form of muscle weakness, making routine motor functions difficult. Muscle pain, spasms, and twitching are other common ailments. Neuropathy can also cause excess or insufficient sweat or impact or autonomic functions of the body.
In this blog, we looked at the causes and effects of neuropathy, how it affects the peripheral nervous system, and the different forms it can take. So neuropathy can have quite a wide range of causes which can range from lifestyle choices to injuries and repetitive stress.
As part of our complete and long-term approach to health and wellness at Genesis, we can offer advice specifically tailored to your needs. Contact us here for a consultation with our chiropractor. Or give us a call at 215-343-3223.