Types of Neuropathy: All You Need to Know

Nerve impairment or nerve damage is called neuropathy. Depending on the severity, it can alter nerve function in a temporary or permanent way. Neuropathy can be caused by a wide variety of factors and comes in many different forms. One of the symptoms is loss of nerve function, which can lead to a loss of sensation or strength.

Paresthesias (unusual sensations) are one symptom of neuropathy, along with pain and discomfort. Medications exist to alleviate unpleasant feelings in most cases. If the underlying cause of neuropathy can be treated, the condition may no longer worsen. This article will go through the different types of neuropathy and how they are caused.

Types of Neuropathy

There is often a pattern in the nerves in the body that are affected by neuropathy. A person can have more than one type of neuropathy at once.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This form of neuropathy affects the nerves responsible for regulating limb movement and sensation. Because peripheral neuropathy typically affects the hands and feet more severely than other body portions, this distribution is sometimes referred to as a "stocking-glove pattern."

Health conditions that affect the entire body cause peripheral neuropathy. Furthermore, it frequently affects nerves on both sides of the body equally. Some of the most common ones are diabetes (mainly if blood sugar levels are not adequately controlled), heavy alcohol consumption, drugs like chemotherapy, and immune system abnormalities.

Autonomic Neuropathy

This form of neuropathy affects the nerves that govern your body's automatic functions (such as your organs). These neurons regulate bowel movement, heart rate, cardiac contraction intensity, blood pressure, bladder emptying, and more.

Autonomic neuropathy has been associated with advanced stages of diabetes and other systemic diseases like renal failure and cancer.

Proximal Neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy is a form of neuropathy that affects the nerves in your upper arm, shoulder, and thighs. It can arise on its own or in tandem with peripheral neuropathy and is rare compared to other forms of neuropathy. Proximal nerves are sometimes affected by the later stages of severe peripheral neuropathy.

Asymmetrical symptoms are typical of this form of neuropathy (not equally affecting both sides of the body). Cancer1 and inflammatory disorders, including Guillain-Barré syndrome (acute demyelinating polyneuropathy) and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, might be contributors.

The breathing muscles are also known to be affected by Guillain-Barré, which can lead to a life-threatening respiratory emergency.

Focal Neuropathy

Getting focal neuropathy is common. Compression of specific nerves is the root cause of many different medical diseases, including the more common ones like carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy (both affect the hand and wrist). Pressure, usually from holding a position for a long time or overuse of a limb in a way that promotes inflammation, can lead to compression.

A viral infection or inflammation can cause Bell's palsy, which is neuropathy of the motor portion of the facial nerve and is also known as focal neuropathy.

Painful inflammation or irritation of the trigeminal nerve (which regulates facial sensibility) causes trigeminal neuralgia, another type of focal neuropathy.

The Final Verdict

The term "neuropathy" refers to any condition in which a nerve is damaged or becomes dysfunctional. Any nerve in the body can be affected by this disorder; the etiology will determine which nerves are affected and in what pattern. There are many types of neuropathy, but the most prevalent are those affecting the peripheral nerves, often caused by diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, or chemotherapy.

Larger nerves are affected by autonomic neuropathy and proximal neuropathy, both of which can have significant effects on quality of life. One typical cause is an inflammation-related illness. Compression of a nerve often leads to focal neuropathy. Neuropathy treatment is crucial for avoiding long-term nerve damage.

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