Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to the peripheral nervous system. This type of disease is characterized by the loss or destruction of the nerves that allow us to feel sensations in our hands, feet, legs, and even toes. The destruction results from a breakdown in the nerve cell membranes, which are the protective covering of the nerve cells.
Symptoms of peripheral nervous system disorders can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. In some cases a patient may have difficulty feeling where their fingertips are located, or they may be unable to feel cold objects. They may also suffer from numbness, tingling, or burning in their hands or feet. These symptoms can be mild to severe, and they vary greatly in intensity.
Two major categories of such disorders exist. The first category is known as primary, which means the problem began before the nerves were damaged. This kind of disorder is usually caused by injury to the nerve itself. In this case, the nerves aren’t damaged to the point that they are unable to function. However, the loss or destruction of the nerves causes a problem.
The second major class of peripheral nervous system disorders is secondary. In secondary types of disorder, the problems begin once nerve damage has been done. In most cases, once the damaged nerves are restored to a healthy state, the patient will no longer have feelings of numbness, tingling, or burning. Unfortunately, in many cases, once peripheral nerves are damaged, they never fully recover. This means patients are often stuck with nerve damage that requires ongoing treatment.
The third major type of disorder is called degenerative. This type occurs when the nerve cells begin to die. After the death of the nerve cells, the result is a disorder of the nervous system. This can occur as a result of disease, tumor, or a buildup of scar tissue.
Symptoms of peripheral nervous system disorders are not the same for all people. Although these nerves are responsible for many functions in the body, they are important to a limited extent. Because of this, damage to any or all of the nerves can cause problems. When the nerve damage is extreme, the person can become unconscious and have difficulty breathing, walking, or performing other functions.
In addition to nerve damage, peripheral nervous system disorders also include muscle weakness and changes in body posture. People can experience loss of muscle control, drooping eyelids, muscle cramps, headaches, numbness in the hands, and tingling in the toes. In some instances, numbness and tingling can be severe enough that the person will fall on their hands. When the nerve damage progresses to this point, it is necessary to consult a doctor. If the disorder is suspected early, the symptoms can be arrested and the disorder managed successfully.
With modern medical technology, there are several ways that the condition can be monitored. Through a routine checkup with a qualified doctor, a medical professional can establish if there is a problem. If so, the doctor can administer treatment. A skilled nurse also can perform a checkup and determine nerve function. If needed, the doctor can make an effective plan for treatment and follow it closely to keep the patient’s nerve system healthy and functioning properly.
Because the condition can affect a person’s ability to think, control body movements, and regulate emotions, the individual can develop depression. This is often worse than the disease or illness that is actually causing the disability. There is no cure for peripheral nervous system disorders, but there are treatments available. Medications are available to control the symptoms of the disease and to allow individuals to live normal lives. Psychological therapy is also available for those who are depressed. This psychological treatment can help the individual understand the triggers that cause their depression, which enables them to find appropriate ways to cope with their feelings.
The symptoms of the disorder may not always be noticeable. They can also be very mild. However, because of the central nervous system’s connection to other parts of the body and the ability to regulate emotion, the disorder can be very disabling. The longer the individual suffering from the disorder delays seeking treatment, the more severe the symptoms will be.
Peripheral nerve system disorders are extremely dangerous. If the imbalance occurs in the central nervous system, the result can be as deadly as any other type of invasive disorder or disease. Individuals who are exposed to high levels of danger need to seek treatment immediately.