Neuropathy is a disease or abnormality of the nervous system. It is an insult to the nervous system like carpal tunnel system or herniated discs which causes different symptoms. It is estimated that 20 million people suffer from peripheral neuropathy.(PN) Diabetes can cause PN.
The peripheral nervous system is made up of the nerves that branch out of the spinal cord to all parts of the body.Peripheral nerve cells have three main parts: Cell body, axons, and dendrites (nerve/muscle junction). Any part of the nerve can be affected, but damage to axons is most common. The axon transmits signals from nerve cell to nerve cell or nerve cell to muscle. Most axons are surrounded by a substance call myelin, which facilitates signal transmission.
There are two types of symptoms with PN; negative and positive. Negative signs appear first when damage to the nervous system brings about a LOSS of a particular function. For example; loss of reflexes, loss of strength, loss of sensation like numbness. But these are rarely detectable to the patient, because the brain makes up the different in the losses. Only after some time do the sick and damaged nerves develop the positive signs of neuropathy; tingling , burning, biting, stabbing, shooting pains. This too is a reaction of the brain and the nervous system, unfortunately this over reaction tears apart the fiber of the patients’ lives.
Some people are affected only by a weakness in the arms and legs which leads to difficulty standing, walking, or getting out of a chair. The loss of sensation from the feet, ankles and toes contributes to patients not having a ‘good sense’ of where their feet are touching the ground, and this causes them to fall very easily. These under-recognized sensory losses CAN ONLY be detected with a proper clinical exam. This office has the necessary tools to uncover the underlying cause of this ‘silent’ nerve damage.
Some patients will eventually become unable to walk at all. These debilitating problems can also be at their worst at night while trying to get to sleep, because the PAIN never goes away.