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Neuropathy

Neuropathy Overview

Neuropathy is a general term that refers to diseases or malfunctions of the nerves. Any nerves at any location in the body can be damaged from injury or disease. Neuropathy is often classified according to the types or location of nerves that are affected. Neuropathy can also be classified according to the disease causing it. (For example, neuropathy from the effects of diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy.)

Types of Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy is when the nerve problem affects the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. These nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system. Accordingly, peripheral neuropathy is neuropathy that affects the nerves of the extremities- the toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, and arms. The term proximal neuropathy has been used to refer to nerve damage that specifically causes pain in the thighs, hips, or buttocks.

Cranial neuropathy: Cranial neuropathy occurs when any of the twelve cranial nerves (nerves that exit from the brain directly) are damaged. Two specific types of cranial neuropathy are optic neuropathy and auditory neuropathy. Optic neuropathy refers to damage or disease of the optic nerve that transmits visual signals from the retina of the eye to the brain. Auditory neuropathy involves the nerve that carries signals from the inner ear to the brain and is responsible for hearing.

Autonomic neuropathy: Autonomic neuropathy is damage to the nerves of the involuntary nervous system, the nerves that control the heart and circulation (including blood pressure), digestion, bowel and bladder function, the sexual response, and perspiration. Nerves in other organs may also be affected.

Focal neuropathy: Focal neuropathy is neuropathy that is restricted to one nerve or group of nerves, or one area of the body. Symptoms of focal neuropathy usually appear suddenly.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/9/2014

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