Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A Few Common Causes Of Neuropathy

Today's post from (see link below) is a short but useful guide to ten possible reasons why you may have neuropathy, or are at risk of suffering nerve damage. When you first hear that you have neuropathy, your first thoughts are...why and how? Actually, once it's established that your nervous system is damaged, then the causes and reasons why are actually less important than getting some treatment to relieve the symptoms because, only in the rarest cases can nerve damage itself be reversed. Many doctors tend to concentrate on searching for the cause and of course, if that is another disease, then you need to tackle that too but unfortunately, that may not have any effect on the nerve damage symptoms you're now displaying. Learning to live with those can be just as challenging or even more of a problem than that which caused it in the first place.

Are You at Risk of Neuropathy? 11 Causes You Need to Know

By Sheryl Huggins Salomon Medically Reviewed by Samuel Mackenzie, MD, PhD
Vitamin deficiencies, persistent high blood sugar from type 2 diabetes, and alcohol abuse are three risk factors for neuropathy.

 Neuropathy (also known as peripheral neuropathy) isn’t just one health condition, but rather a term used to describe a wide range of conditions involving disease and damage to peripheral nerves, and the symptoms that result from those conditions. The peripheral nervous system transmits messages between the central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) and the rest of your body. (1)

An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of neuropathy. Depending on the cause and patient, symptoms of neuropathy can include pain; altered, increased, or reduced sensation; tingling; pins and needles sensations; burning; increased sensitivity to touch; muscle weakness or wasting; paralysis; dysfunction in organs or glands; or impairment to urination and sexual function. (2,3,4)

There are more than 100 types of neuropathy. Among the more common causes, and their risk factors, are:

1. Diabetes

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which affects between 12 percent and 50 percent of people with diabetes, is the most common type of neuropathy. Often the symptoms involve a progressive change in sensation, as well as pain and weakness in the feet (and less commonly, the hands). As the neuropathy progresses, it can lead to a loss of sensation in the affected areas.

More on Neuropathy As a Complication of Diabetes

What Are the Possible Complications of Type 2 Diabetes, and How Can You Avoid Them? Matthew Villani, doctor of podiatric medicine at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Lake Mary, explains that these symptoms arise because “the nerves are being encapsulated by the sugar, which causes the conductive properties of the nerves to slow down or be altered, so that the electrical impulses to the nerves aren’t functioning properly.” (5)

2. Chemotherapy

Cancer patients can experience chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Symptoms can include severe pain, impaired movement, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, problems with balance, trouble breathing, paralysis, and even organ failure. As many as 68 percent of those undergoing chemotherapy experience CIPN within the first month, but that rate decreases to 30 percent after six months or more. (6,7)

3. Age

Neuropathy is present in 2.4 percent of the general population. But prevalence increases with age due to the increase in chronic disease risk as people get older. Eight percent of people ages 55 and older have some form of polyneuropathy (meaning multiple nerves are involved, the most common form) according to a frequently cited study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. (8,9)

4. HIV or AIDS

People being treated for HIV or AIDS may develop neuropathy from effects of the virus and the drugs used to treat it. Common symptoms include burning, stiffness, prickling, tingling, and loss of feeling in the feet and hands. The drugs Videx (didanosine), Hivid (zalcitabine), and Zerit (stavudine) are most frequently associated with neuropathic symptoms. (10)

5. Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune diseases and disorders, which affect more that 23.5 million Americans, are risk factors for neuropathy. Among the more common examples are rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vasculitis, sarcoidosis, celiac disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, Guillain- BarrĂ© syndrome, and the hereditary disorder Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. (11,12)

6. Infections

Infectious diseases can result in neuropathy. A common cause is herpes zoster, also known as shingles. The risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia, or lasting nerve pain, from shingles increases with age. Within a month of getting shingles, 27 percent of 55 to 59-year-olds and 73 percent of people older than age 70 experience the condition, with women being at a higher risk.

With Lyme disease, up to 12 percent of people develop neurological symptoms, especially neuropathy involving the face. (13,14,15)

7. Vitamin Deficiencies, Malnutrition, and Alcohol Abuse

When the nerves are deprived of nutrients, they can cease to function properly. Malnutrition can result from: an unbalanced diet (for instance, not enough Vitamin B12); diseases, disorders, and drugs that affect absorption of nutrients into the body; and alcohol abuse, which also affects absorption.

Vitamin B12 deficiency, which is prevalent in 10 to 15 percent of people older than age 60, has been linked to neuropathy. The deficiency causes damage to the myelin sheaths that surround and protect nerves. Chronic use of the type 2 diabetes drug Glucophage (metformin) is linked to Vitamin B12 deficiency, so if you are taking the medication, your levels of the nutrient should be monitored by a physician. (16,17,18)

8. Toxins

Toxins contained in foods we tend to think of as healthy can also lead to neuropathy, says Norman Latov, MD, PhD, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. “Some people eat lots of seafood in their diet because they think it’s healthy, but it can also contain lots of mercury. In our center, we see people with very high levels of mercury, which can cause neuropathy. Brown rice can have high arsenic levels and that can cause neuropathy, too.”

Additionally, having too much of a nutrient in your system can create toxic effects. For instance, says Dr. Latov, “too much B6 can be toxic to the nerves. The normal requirement is less than 2 milligrams (mg) a day, yet many B6 supplements are 100 mg or more. B6 is also an additive to all sorts of packaged foods.” He advises having your blood levels monitored if you are taking a B6 supplement. (19,20,21,22)

9. Trauma, Repetitive Stress, and Inflammation

Sometimes an injury or swelling can damage or put pressure on one or more nerves, disrupting its functioning and leading to neuropathy. “If an individual, for instance, has some kind of trauma to the spine, then that can cause damage and injury to either peripheral nerves or the spinal cord and result in neuropathy,” explains Vernon Williams, MD, a sports neurologist who is director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. “If an individual has an injury to areas near the knee, then they may have a neuropathy that involves the peroneal nerve and develop pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in that particular nerve.” Edema (the collection of fluid) or swelling can affect nerve functioning as well, he adds.

More on Carpal Tunnel Management

How to Help Ease Carpal Tunnel Pain Naturally Repetitive stress from work, hobbies, or sports can also put one at risk for neuropathy. For instance, carpal tunnel syndrome, which arises from repeated pressure on nerves and tendons in the hands, can result in burning, tingling, or numbness in the palms and along the fingers. The condition usually affects people between ages 40 and 60, and is more common in women than in men. (23)

10. Idiopathic Causes

In 23 percent of the population affected by neuropathy, there is no known cause, and therefore their condition is known as idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. Such neuropathies are most common in people older than age 60. (24,4)

11. Your Genes

Certain forms of neuropathy can be inherited and passed down from parent to child. Often hereditary neuropathies affect the extremities, and can lead to muscle atrophy and weakness, as well as loss of sensation. They can be diagnosed through blood tests for genetic testing, nerve conduction tests, and biopsies of nerves or muscles.

The most common hereditary neuropathy is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which affects an estimated 1 in 2,500 people in the United States. It involves motor and sensory nerves, and symptoms can include foot deformities, such as high arches and hammertoes, due to weakness of the small muscles in the feet; difficulty lifting the foot or holding it in a horizontal position; decreased sensation in the foot or leg; an unsteady gait; difficulty with balance; and problems with hand coordination.

Among the complications that may result from this disease are sprains and fractures in the ankles, feet, and legs. Onset of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is generally between mid-childhood and early adulthood, and although it is progressive, the disease is not considered to be fatal. (25,26,27,28)

Hereditary neuropathy with liability to pressure palsies (HNPP) is another common form of hereditary neuropathy, affecting 2 to 5 per 100,000 people in the United States. People with HNPP are unusually sensitive to pressure, particularly in their wrists, elbows, and knees. They may have recurrent episodes of numbness, tingling, and loss of muscle function in the area associated with an affected nerve, lasting anywhere from several minutes to several months. (29,30)

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