In an earlier post, we discussed the pain and discomfort related to carpal tunnel syndrome but did you know that carpal tunnel is just one of more than 100 medical conditions known under the blanket of Peripheral Neuropathies?
Peripheral Neuropathy refers to disorders of the peripheral nerves, or the part of the nervous system that connects the body to the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is a complex network that connects the brain and spinal cord to every single other part of the body. With a constant flow of nerve impulses running throughout this network, the peripheral nervous system never sleeps, though most of the activity is processed subconsciously, allowing the body to function seamlessly and unnoticed. When something in this powerful network malfunctions, it falls under the term of peripheral neuropathy.
Carpal tunnel is the most common form of peripheral neuropathy, and each form that this disorder takes has its own set of characteristics and symptoms though some common symptoms include weakness in the limbs, numbness and the sensation of pain or twitching under the skin. Symptoms may be seen over a period of days, weeks or even years.
The causes of peripheral neuropathy vary as well. It may be inherited or brought on through injury, some conditions such as tumors, nutritional deficiencies, alcoholism or vascular or metabolic disorders. Peripheral neuropathies that are considered acquired are generally classified as either trauma or systemic diseases. For a more complete list of possible causes of peripheral neuropathies, please click here to visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s website and peripheral neuropathy fact sheet.
Diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy can be difficult due to the high variance in symptoms and as with any medical condition, a thorough exam and patient history is imperative to proper diagnosis and implementation of the most effective care plan. Once a comprehensive exam has been completed, patients should expect that a doctor will seek to treat the underlying cause of the disorder. Techniques presented through chiropractic neurology such as brain stimulation and other non-invasive therapies are gaining ground for patients who suffer from all different types of peripheral neuropathy. Many of these patients are finding relief from their symptoms when they have been previously told that their condition was just something to “live with”, and that is welcome news for thousands of patients each year.