The human body is filled with nerves that communicate via electrical messages from one part of the body to another. There are three types of nerves:
- Sensory Nerves – Report sensation from the skin.
- Motor Nerves – Control muscle movement.
- Autonomic Nerves – Control bodily functions, such as digestion and heart rate.
The central nervous system alone is comprised of 43 pairs of nerves, which all connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body—specifically, the skin, internal organs and muscles. These nerves have an important job, and when they function correctly, they allow us to do everything from moving freely to identifying an injury. However, when these nerves are damaged, messages of pain and discomfort can be reported to the brain where there is in fact no injury. In such cases, peripheral neuropathy is the likely culprit.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
The peripheral nerves emerge from the spinal cord and are assigned particular sections of the body to communicate with— these sections are called dermatomes. Peripheral neuropathy is the result of damage to one or more of these nerves. This condition causes weakness, numbness and pain in the areas of the body to which the afflicted nerves are assigned.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Part of what makes peripheral neuropathy so diverse among patients are the many potential causes of the condition. Peripheral neuropathy can be the result of a traumatic injury, exposure to toxins or contact with certain infections. Some common causes of this condition include:
- Certain medications
- Exposure to toxins
- Autoimmune diseases
- Trauma to the nerves
- Inherited diseases
- Bone marrow disorders
- Vitamin deficiencies
Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy depend on the particular location of nerve damage, as each location of nerve pairings has a specific function. However, common symptoms of the condition include:
- Sharp or burning pain
- Gradual numbness occurring in the hands or feet
- Numbness that spreads to the arms or legs
- Lack of coordination
- Extreme sensitivity
- Muscle weakness
- In some cases, dizziness due to changes in blood pressure or difficulty with bowel and bladder control
Who’s at Risk?
Patients who live with diabetes are at a high risk for peripheral neuropathy—particularly diabetics whose sugar intake is not controlled properly. Beyond this, those who suffer from alcoholism, autoimmune disorders or infections, such as lyme disease, are also at a higher risk for peripheral neuropathy. Patients with vitamin deficiencies, a family history of kidney, liver or thyroid disorders may also be more likely to suffer from peripheral neuropathy. Since this condition is caused by damage to the nerves, trauma from repetitive motions may also cause peripheral neuropathy.
The MISI Approach to Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment
When medication, physical therapy or alternative treatments prove to be inefficient at alleviating symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy, Minimally Invasive Surgical Institute offers highly effective, minimally invasive surgeries to treat neck and back conditions without the bulky instruments and long, painful recovery times.
Of our peripheral neuropathy treatments, perhaps the most successful is our spinal cord stimulator implant—a device that uses electrical pulses to relieve chronic pain caused by neuropathy. Insulated wire leads are inserted through an epidural needle with electrodes at the end. The electrical pulses stimulate the nerves, blocking pain signals. This permanent implant uses wire leads and a pulse generator that is controlled by an external remote by the patient. For more information about our approach to minimally invasive peripheral neuropathy treatments, visit our treatment page here.