Even though the term “neuropathy” might not be a very commonly heard one, there are over twenty million people in the United States alone that are suffering from this sometimes-debilitating disease. Read on to discover what facts about neuropathy are important for you to know—we’ll cover everything from its causes to how you can successfully treat it.
What Causes Neuropathy?
Technically neuropathy isn’t a disease in the conventional sense—it’s actually a collection of disorders that are caused by nerve damage. Since this is the case, neuropathy can actually have any number of causes, and in fact, almost thirty percent of cases are said to be idiopathic, or without a discernible source.
When a cause is uncovered, it’s typically one of these three:
- Diabetes: It’s estimated that almost fifty percent of people living with diabetes suffer from neuropathy as well. When the body is unable to regulate its levels of blood glucose, this can cause extensive nerve damage and initiate the onset of symptoms.
- Traumatic Injuries: Any sort of physical trauma—from a car crash to a sports injury—runs the risk of causing nerve damage. Even commonplace repetitive motions, like typing, are capable of causing damage.
- Autoimmune Diseases: These are diseases that trick the body into attacking its own healthy cells. They include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve damage caused by them can result in neuropathy.
What Are the Symptoms of Neuropathy?
The symptoms you experience with neuropathy are completely dependent on what type of nerves have been damaged. However, there are some classic symptoms that are more common than others. If you’ve ever experienced any of these, it’s not necessarily an indicator that you’re suffering from neuropathy, but it should be a cause for further investigation.
- Limb Weakness: This can manifest in several different ways. If you’ve experienced damage to the nerves in your legs, you may feel heaviness in them, or they may start to get tired much faster than usual. If the damage is in your arms, they could feel weak, or you might have trouble keeping ahold of things.
- Numbness or Tingling: This is a classic sign of neuropathy. It’s important to keep in mind that even completely healthy people will experience tingling or numbness in their hands and feet from time to time; however, if these problems persist over long periods or if you experience short bouts of them very frequently, it could be an indicator of significant nerve damage.
How Can Neuropathy Be Treated?
Unfortunately, there are many forms of neuropathy that aren’t curable, but even still, their symptoms can be successfully managed. Modern Western medicine attempts to treat neuropathy with surgery and medication, and it’s true that these can be effective—however, they can often be risky and expensive, so it’s best to attempt to treat your neuropathy in more natural and safe ways. Some of these methods, such as acupuncture, have been proven to effectively reduce symptoms in as many as seventy five percent of patients!
Hopefully, this has proven informative to you, but as you probably realize, these are just a few of the important facts about neuropathy. It’s always best to get a professional opinion for the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.