Neuropathy: Symptoms and Treatment
Neuropathy is an ailment, for which a degenerative-dystrophic lesion of nerve fibers is characteristic. With this disease, not only the peripheral nerves are affected, but also the cranial nerves. Often there is inflammation of any one nerve, in such cases this disorder is called mononeuropathy, and with simultaneous action on several nerves — polyneuropathy. The frequency of manifestation depends on the cause of the occurrence.
The most common is diabetic neuropathy, as it occurs in more than half the cases. On the second place on the importance of alcohol neuropathy — its characteristic feature is that it develops without the manifestation of symptoms. The remaining types of neuropathy occur equally, but the most rare form of the disease is facial nerve neuropathy.
Any type of disease is diagnosed through a hardware examination of the patient, for example, ultrasound or CT, and is determined by the results of a neurologist’s examination. The main principles of treatment are the use of physiotherapy and the prescription of medications.
The causes of manifestation of the disease is quite a lot, so they are divided into two large groups — external and internal. To the reasons that arose in the body itself, you can refer:
- diabetes mellitus — on the background of this ailment, peripheral neuropathy develops in most cases, that is, the nerves that transmit signals from the spinal cord or brain are affected;
- pathology of the endocrine system
- The lack of vitamins in the body, especially those that are part of group B, because they are of great importance in the metabolic processes of nervous tissues. Quite often becomes the cause of the expression of facial nerve neuropathy;
- autoimmune disorders, for example, Guillain-Barre syndrome;
- Multiple sclerosis
- diseases that have a negative effect on the nerve shell — myelin. They manifest themselves by such symptoms as increased weakness, gait disturbance. Without timely treatment can lead to paralysis;
- rheumatoid arthritis. It can be both an independent disorder and a consequence of scleroderma, which also leads to neuropathy.
To external causes, causing the emergence of this disorder, include:
- alcohol abuse. Alcoholism has a pathological effect on the entire human body, including internal organs and systems. It is natural that his prolonged use harms the nerves. For this reason, neuropathy of the lower extremities appears most often;
- a wide range of injuries — even a strong blow can negatively affect the nerve, which will lead to its damage. This is often the main factor in the appearance of neuropathy of the sciatic and ulnar nerve and upper limbs;
- intoxication of the body with various chemical elements. As a rule, toxic substances have a direct effect on the nerves;
- infectious processes — this or that kind of neuropathy is expressed against the background of a transmitted infection, for example, HIV or diphtheria.
Often the cause of this disorder is a hereditary factor. In this case, the ailment develops independently, without any pathogenic effect.
Depending on what was the factor for manifestation of the disease, and the place of its localization, the disease is divided into several types:
- neuropathy of the radial nerve — a favorable factor may be the so-called «sleep paralysis», i.e. nerve compression due to the wrong position of the hand. Often occurs in people who consume large quantities of alcoholic beverages or narcotic substances. And also progresses with fractures of the hand, bursitis, arthritis or synovitis
- defeat of the lower extremities — is expressed mainly on the background of severe hypothermia, heavy exercise or exercise, oncological neoplasms in the pelvic area, prolonged use of certain medications
- neuropathy of the sciatic nerve — appears due to severe nerve injury. This is possible with fractures of the hip or pelvic bones, gunshot or cut wound, cancer, intervertebral hernia and other pathologies of the spine;
- neuropathy of the ulnar nerve — occurs directly with trauma in this area or with bursitis
- neuropathy of the median nerve — in addition to fractures and sprains, this type of disease occurs in diabetes mellitus, neoplasm development, gout or rheumatism, and in tunnel syndrome
- neuropathy of the peroneal nerve — the causes are bruises, sprains and other injuries, as well as some diseases such as intoxications, spine pathologies, in particular its curvature, tunnel syndrome, and wearing uncomfortable shoes that Not suitable for size or too narrow;
- facial nerve neuropathy — due to the presence of neoplasms, viral diseases, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, craniocerebral trauma, consequences after visiting the dentist, depressive condition, hereditary ailments, pregnancy or childbirth, aneurysm. In some cases, it is referred to as compression-ischemic neuropathy;
- trigeminal neuropathy — characterized by damage to the nerve endings of the gums, upper and lower lips, chin. Causes are complicated complications of labor, maxillofacial operations, wearing of a denture, heredity;
- tunnel neuropathy — is expressed against the background of nerve transmission in the musculoskeletal channels.
Depending on the spread of the pathological process and the number of affected nerves, the disorder is called:
- Mononeuropathy — only one nerve is affected, for example, facial, elbow, etc.
- polyneuropathy — pathology affects several nerves
- peripheral neuropathy — only those nerves that are responsible for the transmission of a signal from the brain or spinal cord are involved in the pathogenic process.
Because there are quite a few types of disease, then they will manifest themselves as different symptoms. Thus, the signs of compression-ischemic neuropathy are:
- muscle paralysis of one side of the face. For unknown reasons, the nerves of the right side are most often affected;
- pronounced asymmetry of the face
- the appearance of pain in the ears
- Hearing acuity reduction
- increased lachrymation or, conversely, dry eyes;
- change in taste preferences
- when you close your eyes, the person from the affected side of the face does not close
- leakage of fluid from the mouth
- the inability to make chewing movements
- curvature of the upper and lower lips.
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are:
- Numbness and burning of the skin throughout the body, which leads to impaired sensitivity
- gait unsteadiness
- fast-growing weakness of the body
- increased sweating during eating or while sleeping
- Dysfunction of the digestive tract — diarrhea, constipation, nausea and vomiting, bloating and flatulence
- sexual disorders — lack of erection and dryness of the vagina
- soreness and discomfort in the rotation of the eyeballs
Alcoholic neuropathy will manifest itself in:
- a sharp onset of soreness in the lower limbs, which also unexpectedly stops
- numbness of arms and legs
- occurrence of seizures in the calves at night
- redness of the skin of the legs
- difficulty or inability to perform motor functions
- Violation of speech activity.
Neuropathy of the lower limbs is manifested by such symptoms:
- burning and numbness
- strong swelling
- cramps at any time of the day;
- partial paralysis;
- difficulties in walking.
Characteristic signs of neuropathy of the sciatic nerve are:
- localization of painful sensations in the buttock area, with spread to the hips. Sometimes the pain is so intense that a person can not move by himself;
- muscle weakness;
- decreased sensitivity in the lower leg and feet
- cooling of the toes.
The main symptoms of neuropathy of the ulnar nerve:
- The weakness of the brush, sometimes develops to such an extent that a person can not perform the simplest functions, for example, to keep cutlery
- complete numbness of the little finger and a partial ring finger
- soreness in the interval from the hand to the elbow.
Manifestations of the neuropathy of the radial nerve:
- localization of pain and discomfort in the armpits, often turning into the shoulder and shoulder blades
- Violations of the flexion functions of the hand and fingers
- Numbness of the little finger, ring finger and middle finger.
Symptoms of neuropathy of the median nerve include:
- pronounced pain starting from the forearm and ending with the fingers of the affected upper limb
- the inability to connect your fingers to your fist
- muscle weakness;
- numbness of the brush
Neuropathy of the peroneal nerve is expressed by the following signs:
- violation of extension of the foot and toes. This is noticeable in that during walking a person bends his legs strongly in the knee so that he does not catch the toe surface
- Sensitivity impairment
- soreness in the lower leg and foot
- impossibility of transferring feet to heels
The main manifestations of peripheral neuropathy are such symptoms as pain and weakness of the muscles of the upper and lower extremities.
The main diagnostic measure for neuropathy of any type is a neurological examination. In addition, assign tests and hardware studies.
Neurological examination consists of:
- questioning the patient about possible causes, previous illnesses, as well as the timing of the onset of the first symptoms
- direct examination, during which the specialist determines the degree of the disease, based on the impossibility of the patient performing an action
- A blood test — performed to identify autoimmune diseases, as well as inflammatory or infectious processes that could contribute to the onset of the disease;
- Ultrasound and CT scan of the whole body or affected part
- Radiography using contrast medium
- electromyography — for this purpose small electrodes are injected into the affected nerve. Do this to record muscle activity.
After receiving all the results of the examinations, the specialist appoints the individual and most effective treatment tactics.
The main goal of therapy is to eliminate pain and discomfort manifestations of the disease, as well as to eliminate the ailments that caused it. Drug treatment includes the appointment:
- corticosteroids that relieve inflammation
- antiviral drugs
- drugs that eliminate painful spasms
- drugs aimed at improving nerve patency;
- Vitamin injections.
But the main result in the treatment of neuropathies is in itself physiotherapy, which includes:
- therapeutic massage courses
- warming up
- exercises exercise therapy
- current and magnetic field treatment
For the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, it is necessary to keep blood sugar under control until the end of life. There are no other ways to eliminate this type of disorder. When alcoholic form is necessary to completely abandon alcoholic beverages, and to restore the body, it is recommended to diversify the diet.
Surgical operations are extremely rare, only in cases where it is necessary to sew a damaged nerve.
Prophylactic measures for neuropathy include:
- enrichment with vitamins and nutritional elements of the diet
- strengthening of immunity;
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- exercise regularly;
- walking tours
- Restriction from stressful situations
- undergoing therapeutic massage and gymnastics courses
- preventive examinations at the clinic several times a year.
In addition, it is necessary to timely treat diseases that can cause this disorder.