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About Neuropathy

Types of

There are hundreds of types of neuropathy, each with its own set of symptoms and treatments. Specific types may be classified by the area of the body affected, or by their causes, e.g. genetics, diabetes or nutritional deficiency. However, all forms of neuropathy can be placed into general categories according to the pattern in which they affect the nerves: peripheral, autonomic and focal.

Peripheral Neuropathy Autonomic Neuropathy Focal Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy

The term "peripheral" refers to all nerve tissues outside the brain and spinal cord. These nerves relay messages from the central nervous system to all other parts of the body, including the skin, muscles, joints and vital organs.

Neuropathy may affect motor nerves (serving the muscles), sensory nerves (dictating sensations such as temperature, pressure and pain), or autonomic nerves (regulating involuntary functions of the body.) Common forms of peripheral neuropathy include diabetic neuropathy, fiber neuropathy and alcoholic neuropathy. Other forms include ischemic neuropathy (caused by lack of blood supply to a peripheral nerve), demyelinating neuropathies (which are chronic and degenerative) and peroneal neuropathy (affecting an important nerve in the leg.) When nerves are damaged due to peripheral neuropathy, it interferes with communication between the brain and the rest of the body, resulting in pain, numbness, weakness, abnormal sensations, or loss of mobility.

Over time, these symptoms may worsen and lead to balance problems or even loss of limbs. In many cases there is an inability to feel sensations such as touch or pain, which can be very dangerous if unnoticed wounds or sores become infected. Peripheral neuropathy typically manifests on both sides of the body, and is most common in the lower limbs. When peripheral neuropathy begins to develop, patients typically feel foot pain, numb toes, a burning sensation in the feet, or simply a sore foot. As the nerve disease spreads, other areas of the body are affected. Peripheral neuropathy pain can be quite devastating to those who live with it everyday, particularly if friends and family don't understand what they are going through. Greater awareness of this disease means better support for those who have it.

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