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What You Need to Know About Peripheral Neuropathy

One debilitating disease thousands of Americans are at risk of developing is peripheral neuropathy. This is a condition that is the result of damage to the peripheral portion of a person’s nervous system. In this case, peripheral refers to the system of nerves that exist apart from the spinal cord and brain. The brain and spinal cord are part of what is called the central nervous system.

Many things can lead to a person developing peripheral neuropathy. This includes but is not limited to alcoholism, autoimmune diseases like arthritis, diabetes, exposure to toxins like heavy metals, viral infections like Lyme disease, bodily injuries, cancer and certain vitamin deficiencies. While the sources of the disease may differ, they all result in serious damage to the peripheral nervous system.

Whatever the cause of a person’s peripheral neuropathy may be, it is usually painful to live with. Common symptoms include tingling in the affected parts of the body, numbness, lack of muscle strength and extreme pain. However, the symptoms of the disease can get even worse than this. If the nerve damage is bad enough and permanent, it can lead to the death of muscles located near those nerves. This can result in immobility and total paralysis.

Thankfully, the disease is not always this bad. Certain patients are able to recover, and the damage done to the nerves is only temporary. One condition where this is the case is Guillain-Barre disease. This disease is caused by a virus, and it results in only temporary peripheral neuropathy and paralysis. Most people with this disease are able to recover and regain full mobility.

As previously mentioned, Lyme disease is another common cause of peripheral neuropathy. Lyme disease is carried by ticks and can be transmitted to humans after the insect burrows under the skin. If Lyme disease is not quickly treated, it can cause serious damage to the nerves and lead to peripheral neuropathy. Thankfully, antibiotic treatment is available that can prevent this.

Other causes of peripheral neuropathy that can be cured include exposure to chemicals like lead, hormonal imbalances that result in vitamin deficiencies and tumors that constrict particular nerves.

However, even when peripheral neuropathy has been cured, lingering symptoms may remain for the rest of that person’s life. While certain nerves and muscles may regain function, they may not return to 100 percent normal. Feelings of numbness and lack of strength in those damaged areas may remain.

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