Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Nerve Damage: Causes and Treatment

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – The various types of nerve damage may have different symptoms and may require different types of treatment. It is estimated that about 1 in 50 Americans suffers from peripheral nerve damage. This type of damage becomes increasingly common with age. One out of every four people with diabetes has some nerve damage.

While not an exhaustive list, the following are some of the possible causes of nerve pain and nerve damage:

Autoimmune diseases. A variety of autoimmune diseases can produce symptoms of nerve pain and nerve damage. These include multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome (a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nerves), myasthenia gravis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Cancer. Cancer can cause nerve pain and nerve damage in multiple ways. In some instances, cancerous masses may push against or crush nerves. In other cases, certain types of cancer may result in nutritional deficiencies that affect nerve function. Additionally, some types of chemotherapy and radiation may produce nerve pain and nerve damage in certain individuals.

Compression or Trauma. Anything that results in trauma or compression of nerves can cause nerve pain and nerve damage. This includes pinched nerves in the neck, crush injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Diabetes. About 25 percent of people with diabetes suffer from nerve damage, which becomes more likely as the disease progresses. Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication and may affect all three types of neurons. Sensory nerves are most often affected, causing burning or numbness. Diabetes who are experiencing symptoms of nerve pain or nerve damage should consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

Drug side effects and toxic substances. Various substances that are taken into the body intentionally or unintentionally have the ability to cause nerve pain and nerve damage. These include medications, such as some chemo-therapies for cancer and certain drugs used to treat HIV. Toxic substances that may be ingested accidentally, including lead, arsenic, and mercury, may also cause damage to the nerves.

Motor neuron diseases. The motor neurons are nerves in the brain and spinal column that communicate with the muscles throughout the body. Diseases that affect these nerves, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, can result in progressively worsening nerve damage.

Nutritional deficiencies. Deficiencies of certain nutrients, including vitamins B6 and B12, may produce symptoms of nerve pain and nerve damage, including weakness or burning sensations. Nutritional deficiencies that cause nerve damage may also result from excessive alcohol ingestion or develop after gastric surgery.

Infectious disease. Certain infectious diseases have the ability to affect the nerves in the body. These conditions include Lyme disease, the herpes viruses, HIV, and hepatitis C.

In many instances, nerve damage cannot be cured entirely. But there are various treatments that can reduce the symptoms. Because nerve damage is often progressive, it is important to consult with a doctor when symptoms are first noticed. That way the likelihood of permanent damage can be reduced.

Often, the first goal of treatment is to address the underlying condition that's causing the nerve pain or nerve damage. This may mean regulating blood sugar levels for people with diabetes, correcting nutritional deficiencies,changing medications when drugs are causing nerve damage, physical therapy or surgery to address compression or trauma to nerves, and using medications to treat autoimmune conditions.

Additionally, the doctor may prescribe medications for minimizing nerve pain. These may include pain relievers, tricyclic antidepressants, and certain anti-seizure drugs.

Complementary and alternative approaches may also help alleviate nerve pain and discomfort. These include acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis and meditation.


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