About 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from a condition called peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy means nerve disease or damage, and in the case of peripheral neuropathy it is usually damage to the small nerve fibers that extend to the feet and hands. These small nerves could be sensory nerves which transmit messages to the spinal cord and brain with feelings of cold, burning, numbness or tingling. It could also affect motor nerves which would transmit exaggerated feelings of pain, muscle wasting, balance difficulties, and paralysis. It is also possible that neuropathy can cause autonomic nerve damage to blood vessels, and organs resulting in impaired sweating, urination, and breathing. Essentially this means the communication wiring from the brain to the extremities or organs is not working properly. Although neuropathy isn’t fatal, it can take a painful and debilitating course which causes suffering over many years.
Types and Causes
There are about 100 types of peripheral neuropathy with carpal tunnel syndrome perhaps one of the more common types. It is estimated that there may be about 80 known causes. Some of the causes include Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, Cancer, Autoimmune Diseases, B12 deficiency, Alcoholism, Drugs, infections such as Lyme, physical trauma, environmental toxicity, and for about 30% of the cases it is idiopathic, meaning there is no known reason. If one nerve is affected it is called mononeuropathy and if more than one nerve is affected it is polyneuropathy.
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