Nerves are specialized cells of the body that help to carry information to the brain (the body’s ‘control center’) and relay commands from the brain to the muscles and other organs of the body. These nerves are found in the brain, spinal cord, and throughout the body.
Sensory nerves carry various sensations – touch, pain, pressure, taste, et cetera – to the brain. In contrast, motor nerves allow our brains to tell our muscles to contract, allowing us to move.
Sensory and motor nerves belong to a special class known as peripheral nerves. Nerves are very delicate structures and have a valuable function in daily life.
Unfortunately, certain conditions or diseases can damage these nerves, impairing a person’s quality of life. A nerve control supplement might be able to calm the symptoms experienced. This condition, known as neuropathy, is what we’ll discuss in this article. We’ll also explore some ways that you can minimize or slow the progression of neuropathy.
What is Neuropathy?
The word neuropathy is derived from the words ‘neuron’ and ‘pathos,’ meaning ‘nerve cell’ and ‘disease,’ respectively. Neuropathy is a disease condition where the peripheral nerves, which supply the body, suffer from damage.
Peripheral nerves work with the central nervous system to relay information throughout the body, and neuropathy interferes with the system. Neuropathy can affect a single nerve, or multiple nerves, depending on the cause.
Because nerves are very delicate tissues, neuropathy is relatively common. Scientists estimate that nearly 30% of all Americans will experience some form of neuropathy in their lifetimes. Certain diseases and conditions may also predispose a person to neuropathy, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Neuropathy presents some characteristic symptoms that may help people realize if they need help. These include:
- Tingling sensations in the hands and feet. The medical term for this condition is paresthesia, which refers to that ‘pins-and-needles’ sensation that we feel in our fingers when we rest on our elbows for too long.
- Numbness. It is a loss of feeling in a certain body part, such as not feeling pain, touch, or pressure in that area. Depending on the stage of the neuropathy, it may be temporary or permanent.
- Sharp, burning pain in certain parts of the body. That happens when a damaged nerve is overstimulated.
- Extreme sensitivity to touch. In certain kinds of neuropathy, every sensation is amplified, making the nerves hypersensitive.
- Muscle spasms. Spasms are painful, uncontrollable contractions of muscles.
- Muscle weakness. That happens because some, but not all, of the neurons in a nerve supplying a muscle are damaged. In some conditions, muscle weakness may progress to paralysis.
- Paralysis. Paralysis refers to an inability to contract a muscle, thereby losing the ability to move a specific body part.
- Loss of muscle mass (neurogenic atrophy).
- Abnormal sweating, problems with urination and emptying the bowel, and reduced sexual function.
Causes of Neuropathy
There are many causes of neuropathy that have been identified in patients. Let’s look at the major ones:
In the United States, diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy. Nearly 70% of people who have diabetes suffer from some form of neuropathy. In diabetic neuropathy, high sugar levels activate free radicals, which attack nerves and damage them.
Physical trauma that directly damages the nerves may lead to neuropathy. Injuries from car accidents, sporting activities, falls, or quack procedures may damage a nerve. For example, pulling too hard on a newborn baby’s head may damage the brachial plexus, a bundle of nerves that supplies the arm and hands.
Infections and autoimmune disorders
Certain infections and autoimmune disorders can damage the nerves. Guillain-Barre syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus are some autoimmune disorders where the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves. Bacterial and viral infections like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis C, syphilis, herpes, leprosy, and Epstein-Barr virus also cause neuropathy.
Certain drugs and antibiotics can cause nerve damage. People receiving cancer chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also be susceptible to neuropathy, as powerful drugs and electromagnetic rays could damage nerves.
Certain vitamins such as vitamins E, B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), B12, and niacin are needed for the normal function of nerves. When the body does not have enough of them, neuropathy may result.
Alcoholism and smoking
Alcoholism and smoking can predispose a healthy person to neuropathy. Alcohol inhibits the body’s absorption of Vitamin B12, which is critical to nerve function. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, which can narrow the blood vessels supplying the peripheral nerves.
Can You Prevent Neuropathy?
Yes, and no. For most people, it is possible to reduce your chance of developing neuropathy. However, it all depends on what your condition is. If neuropathy is due to an autoimmune disorder, it may be more difficult to prevent. Diabetic neuropathy, on the other hand, may be slowed if you get professional help early. Here are a few tips to help you prevent neuropathy:
Manage your sugar levels
The major cause of neuropathy in diabetic patients is high sugar levels. If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels in the range recommended by your doctor.
Avoid clutter in the home
Loose-lying cords and other items in the home can cause you to trip and fall. Ensure to put such items away to prevent you from falling.
Eat healthy foods
A healthy diet is necessary for keeping your body in good condition. Eat a balanced diet that contains vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Obesity can predispose a person to diabetes, so try to eat moderate portions.
About 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can help improve blood flow and blood pressure. It’s also known to reduce blood sugar, helping you stay healthy. Staying active helps increase blood supply to the nerves, allowing them to stay nourished and healthy.
Care for your skin
Take care of your skin, especially your feet. Ensure to check every day for sores, blisters, or any injury. If you have diabetes or poor blood flow, avoid walking barefoot. However, don’t wear tight socks so that blood can circulate properly.
Smoking damages the blood vessels that supply your nerves. Without an adequate blood supply, the nerve may become damaged.
Take your medications
Ensure to take your medications faithfully. You can talk with your doctor about medications to prevent the onset of neuropathy. If you think a medication you’re taking is causing neuropathy, you can ask them if there are other safer options.
Stay Positive About Your Health
A variety of conditions and diseases cause neuropathy. Ultimately, how it should be managed would depend on its root cause. If you notice symptoms, make sure to call your healthcare provider to prevent any further damage. With adequate care, you may be able to prevent or slow its progression.