What is it?
Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in the body. Each nerve
has a special covering and when that covering is damaged, the nerve doesn't
function normally. A "tingling" sensation or a feeling of "pins and needles"
may be a warning sign to the patient that their nerves are functioning
abnormally. When the condition of neuropathy worsens, the patient may lose
complete feeling in different parts of their body. Most commonly, neuropathy
tends to affect the hands and feet. When the hands and feet become
neuropathic, it is very difficult for one to carry out their activities of
What causes it?
Many diseases such as, diabetes, alcoholism, vitamin deficiencies, trauma
and certain drugs can cause neuropathy. The most common cause of neuropathy
is diabetes mellitus. In diabetes, the elevated sugar affects the nerves and
can result in pain or loss of sensation. If the sugar is not well
controlled, the neuropathy progressively worsens and can cause serious
disability in one's life. Sometimes with quick diagnosis and treatment this
is reverible. Other times after extended period of numbness it is not
reversible. Simple tasks such as walking barefoot or soaking your hands and
feet can be potentially dangerous in the neuropathic patient. Constant
monitoring of water temperature before bathing is essential in preventing
unintentional burns or injury.
How is it treated?
A neuropathy can be a very
difficult condition to treat. In general, a doctor can treat the symptoms
that accompany nerve damage however; certain types and stages of nerve
damage are permanent. Oral medications can be given to control the pain and
other associated nerve-like symptoms. Newer medications are actually in some
cases restoring partial feeling it the neuropathy is not too advanced. With
advanced nerve damage in the hands and feet, it is essential for the patient
to be cognizant of all precautions. It is mandatory for patients with
neuropathies of the feet to constantly wear shoes and socks. Examination of
the bottom of one's foot is required as well as checking the inside of shoes
before putting them on. Having another family member evaluate the
temperature of the water before bathing can help prevent unnecessary burns
to the hands and feet. Neuropathy can be a very devastating condition.
However, the more one knows about this ailment, the more effective is the