The nervous system plays a role in most bodily functions, from regulating your heartbeat to controlling your muscle movements to helping you process and feel sensations, including pain. Nerves carry information to and from the brain and from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy pain, which is also called nerve damage, is widespread and can have a wide variety of symptoms.
Causes & Risk Factors
Peripheral neuropathy pain can result from many different causes, depending on which nerves are involved. Causes include:
- Exposure to toxins
Nerve damage can have a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the type of nerves affected and their location.
The autonomic nerves control the involuntary body functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and bladder function. Autonomic nerve damage symptoms include:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Dry eyes or mouth
- Inability to sense chest pain
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction
- Too much or too little sweating
The sensory nerves relay sensory information that includes temperature, pain, and other sensations by sending information from the skin and muscles to the brain and spinal cord. Sensory nerve damage symptoms include:
- Sharp, jabbing pain
- Lack of coordination
- Tingling or prickling
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
The motor nerves control muscle movement by sending information from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles. Motor nerve damage symptoms include:
- Muscle atrophy
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
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Neuropathy can be very challenging to diagnose. Generally, a physical exam, neurological exam, patient history, and screening tests are the first steps. Screening tests can detect diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, liver or kidney dysfunction, and other metabolic disorders. Other diagnostic tests for neuropathy include:
- Skin biopsy, which can reveal information about nerve fiber endings.
- CT Scans that can detect vascular irregularities, brain tumors, and cysts.
- Nerve conduction velocity testing the degree of damage in large nerve fibers.
- Nerve biopsy provides valuable information about the degree of damage in a nerve.
- Electromyograms (EMG) can help differentiate between muscle and nerve disorders.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging detects sustained compression damage in nerve fibers.
Nerve damage can be progressive, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as symptoms appear. At PMIR Medical Center, the first goal of treatment is to address the underlying condition causing nerve damage. For example, if you have neuropathy caused by diabetes, it’s essential to learn to control your blood sugar. After the underlying issue has been addressed, we offer treatment options for nerve damage that include: