Peripheral Neuropathy - Symptoms and Causes.

Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is a condition that occurs when there is damage or dysfunction to the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves that transmit signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.

This damage can result in various symptoms, including numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain. Multiple factors, including diabetes, alcoholism, autoimmune disorders, chemotherapy, infections, and inherited conditions, can cause neuropathy. 

Treatment options depend on the symptoms’ underlying cause and severity and may include medications, physical therapy, surgery, and lifestyle changes.

Causes of Neuropathy

  1. Diabetes: Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy. High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves over time, leading to numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet. This type of neuropathy is often called diabetic neuropathy and can occur in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes.
  2. Alcoholism: Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the nerve, especially the peripheral nerves. Symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy may include numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms and legs, and difficulty with coordination and balance.
  3. Autoimmune disorders: Certain autoimmune diseases like lupus can cause nerve damage. This type of neuropathy is often called autoimmune neuropathy and can result in a range of symptoms depending on the specific disorder and the affected nerves.
  4. Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs can cause nerve damage as a side effect. This type of neuropathy is often called chemotherapy-induced neuropathy and can result in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet.
  5. Infections: Some infections, such as shingles, HIV, and Lyme disease, can cause neuropathy. In these cases, the condition or the body’s immune response to the infection can lead to nerve damage.
  6. Inherited disorders: Some inherited conditions, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can cause neuropathy. A progressive loss of sensation and muscle strength in the arms and legs often characterizes these disorders.

Other less common neuropathy causes include exposure to toxins, certain medications, vitamin deficiencies, and nerve trauma or injury. Identifying the underlying cause of neuropathy is essential to develop an effective treatment plan.

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy

Neuropathy symptoms can vary depending on the type of nerve damage and which nerves are affected. Some common  include:

  1. Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or other areas of the body
  2. Weakness in the muscles, especially in the legs and feet
  3. Pain or burning sensation in the affected areas
  4. Loss of coordination and balance
  5. Sensitivity to touch or temperature changes
  6. Muscle cramps or twitching
  7. Changes in skin, hair, or nails, such as thinning or discoloration
  8. Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as buttoning clothes or tying shoes
  9. Digestive problems, such as constipation or diarrhea
  10. Bladder problems, such as incontinence or difficulty urinating.

The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to disabling. It’s essential to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, significantly if they affect your daily activities or quality of life. Early detection and treatment of neuropathy can help prevent further nerve damage and improve your overall health and well-being.

Neuropathy treatment with stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy is a promising treatment option for neuropathy. Still, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness and safety. Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into different types of cells in the body, including nerve cells. Stem cell therapy involves using stem cells to repair damaged nerves or regenerate new nerve cells.

Different types of stem cells can be used for neuropathy treatment, including adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells. Adult stem cells can be obtained from a patient’s bone marrow, fat tissue, or donor. In contrast, embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells are generated in a laboratory.

However, more studies are needed to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of stem cell therapy for neuropathy, the optimal type of stem cells to use, the best route of administration, and the appropriate dosage. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about stem cell therapy’s potential benefits and risks for neuropathy. Consider it a complementary treatment option alongside conventional therapies, such as medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.