Doctor's Notes on Neuropathy
Neuropathy means any diseases or malfunctions of the nerves. The four main types of neuropathy are
- Peripheral (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord),
- Cranial (the 12 cranial nerves),
- Autonomic (nerves of the involuntary nervous system) and
- Focal (neuropathy restricted to one area of the body).
General signs and symptoms of neuropathy for all four types of show
- a gradual loss of feeling,
- tingling and/or
- pain that may progress over time.
For peripheral neuropathy, signs and symptoms can also include the inability to determine joint position of the extremities and/or extreme sensitivity to touch by the arms and legs. Cranial neuropathy can evolve one or more of the 12 cranial nerves; the general symptoms of neuropathy may localize mainly to the face and eyes; however, other cranial nerves may show similar symptoms. For autonomic neuropathy, because autonomic nerves control the function organs and glands, they usually produce many different symptoms and signs, depending upon what organs or glands are involved.
Signs and symptoms may be one or more of the following:
- abdominal bloating,
- dizziness or fainting,
- constipation or diarrhea,
- heat intolerance,
- blurry vision,
- sweating and/or
Signs and symptoms of focal neuropathy may be any of the above signs or symptoms but usually affecting a localized body site like pain, numbness and/or tingling to the right big toe.
The main underlying cause any neuropathy is damage to one or more nerves. Damage to nerves can come from many different sources such as
- vitamin deficiencies,
- autoimmune problems,
- genetic or inherited disorders,
- drugs and/or medications,
- tumors and
- many others.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.