What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral Neuropathy(PN) is the term used to describe disorders of the peripheral nerves. Even though 10-20 million people in the US suffer with PN information is hard to come by. Approximately 50% od Diabetics will develope the condition. Many people using statin medication "chlosterol drugs" will be affected by this mysterious and under-recognized malady.
Neuropathy means "disease or abnormallty of the nervous system", which is not a very helpful definition. We think of neuropathy as any damage to the nervous system. Carpal tunnelsyndrome, Hernated Discs and Strokes are all insults to different areas of the nervous system, all with differnet symptoms. Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects all nerves of the body from the brain, eyes, and small nerves of the heart and digestive system, to the nerves of the hands feet and legs.
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,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 or muscle. Most axons are surrounded by a substance called myelin, which facilitates signal transmission.
There are two types of symptoms with peripheral neuropathy: negative and positive. Negative signs which come first are damage to the nervous system,obviously brings about LOSS of a paticular function. For example: loss of reflexes, loss of strenght, loss of sensation like numbness. But these are rarely detectable to the patient because the brain makes upthe difference in these losses.
Only after some time do the sick and damages nerves develope the positive signs of neuropathy: tingling burning,biting, stabbing and shooting pains. this too is a reaction of the brain and nervous system, unfortunately thei overreaction tears apart the fiber of the patient's lives.
Each patient will describe their pain in their own individual language of 'pain'. this can easily confuse a doctor not trained in recognition and treatment of these patients. So the patient usually continues to suffer, going from doctor to doctor, to stronger and stronger doses of pills untill they are either completely drugged up or out of it, or lost in their world of suffering
some neuropathies come on suddenly others over many years. Some people are affected only by weakness in the arms and legs which leads 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 there feet are in space, touching the ground, and this causes them to fall down very easily. These undee-recognized sensory losses CAN ONLY be detected with the proper slinical exam.. Our office has the necessary tools to uncover the underlying cause of this silent nerve damage
Some patients eventually becoem unable to walk at all. Others start with tingling, pin prick feeling that turns into deep sharp stabbing pains with burning electrical shocks. These debilitating problems can also be at their worse at night while trying to get sleep, because the PAIN never goes away. In fact once started IT ONLY GETS WORSE!!
currently ordinary medicine has no cure for PN at this time. Teh extremely pwoerful drugs dispensed to patients do NOT TREAT the NERVE DAMAGE
they numb the brain to the pain. Most patients can not tolerate a drugged existence but feel they have NO OTHER OPTION against this hoeeifying pain.