Peripheral neuropathy affects approximately 20 million people in the United States. It occurs due to miscommunication between the spinal cord and the brain or the Central Nervous System. Peripheral neuropathy may lead to numbness and affect different body parts depending on the cause. Whether you have neck or back pain, Dr. Carlos Vazquez Fort Worth applies non-invasive therapies to restore function.
What is the peripheral nervous system?
The peripheral nervous system is a network of nerve tissue connecting the central nervous system to the body. Its principal purpose is to communicate sensory information to the brain. The peripheral nervous system also facilitates digestion and blood circulation.
Damage or injury to the nerve tissue may trigger peripheral neuropathy. The condition is characterized by poor communication of sensory signals from the CNS to the brain.
As a result, people with peripheral neuropathy may experience numbness, tingling, or burning sensations. It may impact various nerves and occur in different regions of your body.
Types of peripheral neuropathy
There are many types of peripheral neuropathy depending on the affected nerves. The condition may affect an isolated nerve or multiple nerves simultaneously.
Peripheral neuropathy can be grouped according to the affected nerves. Motor conditions cause complications in nervous tissue responsible for the movement of the hands, arms, or limbs. Patients experience painful cramps, persistent twitching, or muscle shrinking.
Sensory neuropathy affects nerves that send information about sensations such as hot, cold, and pain. Symptoms may include an unusual perception of touch, as though you are wearing a glove when you are not.
Autonomic neuropathy affects systems typically invisible to the eye, such as breathing, digestion, and heart rate. Some of the symptoms are gastrointestinal problems, excessive sweating, and high blood pressure. In rare cases, patients may have problems with swallowing food due to nerve damage in the esophagus.
Examples of peripheral neuropathy conditions include:
- Bell’s palsy: A condition that affects muscles on one side of the face.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: A type of peripheral neuropathy affecting the median nerve running through your hand. It is characterized by pain, numbness, and hand weakness.
- Ulnar nerve palsy: Is caused by damage to the ulnar nerve, running from the elbow through the back of the arm to your wrist. Symptoms include hand weakness and elbow joint tenderness.
- Peroneal nerve syndrome: The peroneal nerve controls the movement of the toes and the ankle. Damage to the nerve may cause tingling sensations in your foot. Another symptom is a foot drop, where the patient loses the ability to lift the foot at the ankle.
Who is at risk?
Peripheral neuropathy can affect individuals of all ages and backgrounds. But people over 45 have a higher risk of the condition compared to younger people.
High blood sugar levels in diabetes patients may damage nerves, causing numbness in the lower legs. Direct impact on nervous tissue may impair the function of some nerves and muscles. Other risk factors include medication, genetic conditions, and nutritional deficiency.