A condition characterized by damage to nerve fibers and accompanied by a violation of the conduction of a nerve impulse along a nerve fiber is called neuropathy, and there are different types of neuropathies.
If one nerve suffers, we are talking about mononeuropathy. And if there are multiple symmetric damages to the peripheral nerves (for example, when the process covers both lower and/or upper limbs, etc.), we are talking about polyneuropathy. The pathological process can cover both cranial and peripheral nerves.
Lesions of the peripheral nerve trunks, which are based on the infringement of the nerve that has increased as a result of inflammation and edema in the musculoskeletal tunnel, are called tunnel syndrome (there is also a name for compression-ischemic neuropathy).
There are dozens of tunnel syndromes, the most famous of which is the carpal.
Causes and Types of neuropathy
In 30% of cases, neuropathy is considered idiopathic, which means caused by unknown reasons.
Otherwise, the causes of the disease can be divided into internal and external.
Reasons associated with various internal pathologies include:
- endocrine diseases, of which diabetes mellitus accounts for about a third of all neuropathies;
- vitamin deficiency, especially deficiency of B vitamins;
- autoimmune diseases;
- multiple sclerosis;
- rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
External factors provoking the development of neuropathy include:
- alcoholism (a frequent consequence – neuropathy of the lower extremities);
Often the cause of nerve damage is a hereditary factor. In such cases, the disease can develop autonomously, without any additional harmful effects.
Neuropathy is a very serious ailment that needs qualified diagnosis and adequate treatment. If you are concerned about any of the symptoms listed below, consult a neurologist immediately!
Types of neuropathies
Depending on the localization of the disease, neuropathies of the upper, lower extremities and cranial nerves are distinguished, for example:
Facial nerve neuropathy
It can develop as a result of a previous traumatic brain injury, viral infection, hypothermia, unsuccessful dental intervention, depression, pregnancy, and childbirth, as well as due to neoplasms. Signs of the disease are muscle weakening (on the part of the affected nerve), salivation, lacrimation, and inability to completely close the eyelids.
This type of neuropathy is caused by various reasons (maxillofacial surgery, dentures, difficult childbirth, heredity) damage to the nerve endings of the gums, upper and lower lips, chin. Patients complain of severe facial pain from the affected nerve, radiating to the upper, lower jaw, not relieved by analgesics. There is also a discharge from one nostril, lacrimation, and redness of the eye.
Radial nerve neuropathy
This sort is one of the types of neuropathies that often occur against the background of the so-called “sleep paralysis”, i.e., compression of the nerve due to the wrong position of the hand. This neuropathy occurs in people who use drugs or alcohol. It also progresses with hand fractures, bursitis, or arthritis. It is manifested by a violation of the dorsiflexion of the hand (the hand hangs), numbness of the thumb and index fingers, and pain that can occur along the outer surface of the forearm.
Median nerve neuropathy
The defeat of this area of the upper limb can occur during sprains, fractures, diabetes mellitus, rheumatism, gout, neoplasms, as well as in the case of nerve compression. It manifests itself as severe pain (and numbness and burning) in the forearm, shoulder, hand, thumb, index, and middle fingers.
Ulnar nerve neuropathy – a type of neuropathy
The cause of this ailment can be traumatic (stretching, tear, and rupture) or other damage to the ulnar nerve (for example, caused by bursitis, arthritis). It is manifested by numbness of the first and half of the fourth fingers, a decrease in the volume of the hand, and a lowering in the volume of movement.
Sciatic nerve neuropathy
Usually, it becomes the result of a serious injury or illness (knife or gunshot wound, fracture of the hip or pelvic bones, intervertebral hernia, oncology). It is manifested by pain on the back of the thigh, lower leg, buttocks from the side of the nerve lesion.
Lower limb neuropathy
It can develop due to excessive physical overload, tumors in the pelvic region, hypothermia, and the use of certain drugs. Symptoms are the inability to bend forward, pain in the back of the thigh, and numbness in the lower leg.
Peroneal nerve neuropathy
This type of neuropathy occurs due to bruises, dislocations, and other injuries, including curvature of the spine, tunnel syndrome, wearing tight, uncomfortable shoes. Manifestations: the impossibility of dorsiflexion of the foot, cock gait (the patient cannot bend the foot “towards himself”).
Symptoms of neuropathy
The variety of types of disease explains the high number of specific manifestations. And yet, the most characteristic signs of neuropathy can be distinguished, for example:
- swelling of tissues in the affected area;
- violation of sensitivity (soreness, numbness, cold snap, burning of the skin, etc.);
- muscle weakness;
- spasms, convulsions;
- difficulty in movement;
- soreness / sharp pain in the affected area.
Mononeuropathies of the extremities are never accompanied by general cerebral symptoms (nausea, vomiting, dizziness, etc.); cranial neuropathies can manifest themselves with similar symptoms and, as a rule, accompany more serious diseases of the nervous system of the brain.
Polyneuropathies are manifested by impaired sensitivity, movement, and autonomic disorders. This is a serious pathology, which initially manifests itself in the form of muscle weakness (papezov), and then can lead to paralysis of the lower and upper extremities. The process can also involve the trunk, cranial, and facial nerves.
Diagnosis and treatment of neuropathy
When diagnosing neuropathy, the primary information to the doctor is given by interviewing and examining the patient, and palpation, checking the sensitivity and motor activity of the affected area.
Additionally, laboratory tests and instrumental studies can be assigned, such as:
- blood and urine tests;
- elastography of the peripheral nervous system
- ultrasound and computed tomography;
- MRI and X-ray.
After receiving the results of all examinations, the doctor chooses the most effective treatment tactics in this case.
Surgical techniques for treating neuropathy are used when the damaged nerve needs to be sutured.
Drug therapy involves the appointment of antiviral, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic, and sedatives, plus drugs that improve nerve patency and vitamins. In the presence of a causative disease, treatment of the underlying ailment is carried out in parallel with the treatment of neuropathy.
Physiotherapeutic methods are considered the most effective in the treatment of neuropathy:
- laser therapy;
- hydrotherapy, etc.
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