Diagnosing neuropathy should of course be conducted by a medical professional. However, patients can get a better idea whether they might have it or not by looking over the most common symptoms of neuropathy – to see if those symptoms line up with what they are experiencing. They can also benefit from considering causes of neuropathic pain that might put them in a high-risk group. Finally, it is specifically worth looking at the differences between peripheral neuropathic pain and multiple sclerosis since the two conditions are so similar and, hence, often misdiagnosed.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Many of the symptoms of neuropathy have to do with sensations – such as pain, pins-and-needles, burning, numbness, and touch sensitivity. Neuropathy is not limited to these discomfort-related nerve signals but is actually broader than that, extending in some cases to sexual or urinary impairment; gland or organ dysfunction; muscular atrophy or weakness; or paralysis.
Causes of Neuropathy
Beyond looking at symptoms of neuropathy, to determine if you have the condition, one of the ways to do so is considering whether you have experienced one of the most common causes of the condition: surgery, accidents, disease, or infection. In the case of surgery, if it is an amputation, you may experience a rare type of neuropathy, phantom limb syndrome. If you get into an accident, you may suffer neuropathy related to damaged joints, tissue, and muscles. Cancer, multiple myeloma, multiple sclerosis, and some other major diseases may lead to neuropathy as well. Finally, some people – particularly those with HIV, shingles, and syphilis – may experience neuropathic symptoms from infections.
PN vs. MS
Neuropathy is often classified within four broad categories: autonomic, proximal, focal, and peripheral. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common, impacting 7 in 10 diabetics, among others. PN is often mistaken for another common illness, multiple sclerosis (MS). To get a better idea on the distinction between those diseases:
- PN or Peripheral Neuropathy – Part of the reason it is not easy always to identify PN is simply how diverse the condition is. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), there are more than 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy alone. However, the various strains of PN are all related, all involving some peripheral nervous system damage – meaning issues with the nerves that lie outside the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms are often felt in the hands, feet, or lower legs. Numbness, pain, and other abnormal sensations are experienced as the peripheral nerves stop working properly. Patients who have suffered for a long time with PN, particularly if it is advanced, may experience muscular weakness.
- MS – The symptoms of this disease are similar to symptoms of neuropathy, particularly peripheral neuropathy. The symptoms include uncomfortable sensations such as pain and numbness. However, a primary distinction in MS when compared to PN is that the former impacts the spinal cord, optic nerve, and/or brain — i.e., the central nervous system, not the peripheral one. In MS, the issue is that the central nervous system is damaged and unable to properly send signals to the peripheral nerves.
Recovering from Your Neuropathy
Do you think you might be suffering from symptoms of neuropathy? At Atlanta Medical Clinic, our groundbreaking treatment protocol not only helps relieve the symptoms of PN but also works to restore the function of damaged nerves.