Neuropathy is a nerve disease most often caused by diabetes. Still, in some cases, the culprit might be an injury or some complex diseases, like cancer. Whatever the cause, neuropathy is very unpleasant, although the pain level depends on a lot on what this condition affects. In fact, neuropathy is often classified according to the type of affected nerves.
Most doctors recognize four different kinds of neuropathy – focal, peripheral, proximal, and autonomic neuropathy. The treatment of the disease is done according to this classification, as different types of this disease require different measures.
Neuropathy usually affects a number of nerves at the same time. However, there are cases when only one nerve is affected by the disease. This is called focal neuropathy. The disease often strikes the nerves located in the head, but it’s not uncommon to affect the nerves in the torso or legs.
The worst thing about focal neuropathy is that it comes suddenly, without any warning signs. This type of neuropathy is marked by severe pain in specific spots, such as the lower back, outside region of the shin, chest, etc. If the disease has affected a nerve connected to the eye, the patient may experience double-vision, dizziness, inability to focus, and so on.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition often spotted among diabetes patients. Actually, this is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy, affecting over 70% of all diabetics. The disease affects the nerves in the extremities, but especially feet. Stabbing pain in the toes is one of the common signs of diabetic neuropathy.
In fact, peripheral neuropathy in feet and toes is a sort of early sign that a serious diabetic problem is on the way. This is because the nerves in the peripheral parts of the body are most easily affected with the disease. The reason is simple – the nerve signal from your toes needs to travel quite a distance to reach your brain.
In order to deal with peripheral neuropathy, it’s necessary to tackle its cause – diabetes. If you keep your blood sugar levels under control, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy should go away over time. Of course, there are ways to speed up that process.
Apart from taking the nerve-regenerating medicines prescribed by your doctor, you can help yourself by changing your dieting habits. Eat plenty of fish, shellfish, and soy, as these foods are rich in vitamin B, which your nerves need to function properly. Of course, you can take care of your daily needs for this vitamin by taking nerve pain supplements.
This is another type of nerve disease that is often caused by diabetes. Unlike peripheral neuropathy that causes pain and numbness, this disease causes muscle weakness. It’s all because proximal neuropathy affects the nerves that are in charge of controlling the muscles.
In most cases, the muscles affected by this condition are those in the upper part of your legs, specifically buttocks. Still, this doesn’t mean that proximal neuropathy can’t affect other bits of your body. Although not that common, the disease can cause weakness in the lower back, hips, and even hands.
Proximal neuropathy is prevalent in elderly patients diagnosed with diabetes. The solution is relieving the nerve pain with medicines. Given the fact that muscular dystrophy often comes as a result of proximal neuropathy, the patients also need to make a change in their diet. In order to rebuild the lost muscle, the patients need to increase the consumption of protein.
This is one of the most dangerous types of neuropathy as it affects autonomic nerves. Basically, these nerves are the ones that keep you alive. They’re in charge of controlling your heartbeat, breathing, and other processes that go along without a need of thinking about them.
Another bad thing about autonomic neuropathy is that it’s not easy to detect. This is because it comes with a number of symptoms that other diseases share as well. For example, it can affect your digestive system, wrecking a havoc of the homeostasis. The problem is that a number of other diseases can do the same.
Unfortunately, diagnosing the type of neuropathy is not something you can do on your own. The best thing you can do is to go to a doctor as soon as you notice that something’s not quite right with your body. Patients suffering from diabetes are especially advised to regularly check themselves for the signs of neuropathy.
But, this doesn’t mean that diabetes is the only cause of this problem. All four types of neuropathy can be triggered by all sorts of other issues, which is why a full-body checkup on a regular basis seems like the perfect choice. It should enable your physician to determine the right type of neuropathy, as well to think of the right way to treat it.
Just a couple decades ago, neuropathy was a condition that had no permanent cure. But, things have changed since. Today, there are many treatments available that can completely take away the nerve pain. In most cases, the treatments are based on dealing with the cause of the disease, not the pain itself.
Still, in order to efficiently take care of the disease, the physician needs to determine the exact type of neuropathy. Unfortunately, some types of neuropathy share the symptoms with various other diseases, so diagnosing it properly might be challenging.