Different Causes of Neuropathy and There Treatments
Neuropathy Disorders Explained
Unfortunately, in many cases of neuropathy, damage to the peripheral nerves is irreversible. Thus, the treatment is mainly directed to the following:
- Prevention of progression of the damage to other peripheral nerves.
- Avoidance of complications that may emanate because of the already damaged nerves.
Five most common causes of neuropathy are as follows:
- Food allergy
- Nutritional deficiency
- Other diseases
- Toxic drugs
Nerve entrapment syndrome
Let us look at some of the recommended treatments for different types of neuropathy:
Neuropathy due to food allergy
Neuropathy caused by food allergy is one of the easiest to cure. The first thing that you should do is to determine your allergens and the allergy-causing foods. Once that is known, you should avoid eating these foods. Studies show that the chemicals in the foods and drinks are the main culprits behind food allergy related neuropathy. The two common chemicals that are found in artificial foods are the aspartic acid and glutamic acid. Both of these cause damage to the nerves.
Aspertame, an artificial sweetener, used by diabetics contains the aspartic acid that often aggravates diabetic neuropathy. Aspertame is now used in different fruit juices as well as sports drinks. You must avoid drinking drinks that contain aspartame in order to recover from neuropathy symptoms.
Other harmful agents found in food are the food seasoning MSG (monosodium glutamate), gluten and residual pesticides found on fruits’ skin. There are some kinds of herbs that also cause herbal allergies that eventually develop neuropathy.
Neuropathy due to nutritional deficiency
Neuropathy can be caused by deficiency of any of the following B vitamins – thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine and cobalamin. You need to increase the intake of foods that are rich in these vitamins. Here are examples of foods that provide these vitamins.
- B-1 or thiamine – An excellent source of thiamine is asparagus. Others are Brussels sprout, flaxseed, tuna, green peas and spinach.
- B-3 or niacin or nicotinic acid – This vitamin can be found in eggs, milk, green vegetables, cereals and yeast.
- B-6 or pyridoxine - This vitamin is found in meat, liver, cereals, eggs, beans and vegetables.
- B-12 or cobalamin – You only get this vitamin from animal foods such as fish, shellfish, clams, oysters, mussels, crabs, mutton, beef lamb and liver.
When the B-vitamins are not supplied adequately by your foods, you can replenish the lacking nutrient by taking oral pills or supplements. In more severe case of vitamin B deficiency, intramuscular injections are given to the patients.
In addition B-vitamins, copper deficiency can cause of neuropathy. Some of the food sources of this mineral are legumes, oysters, organ meats, fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and dark chocolate. You can also find copper salts as supplements in the market. Intravenous injection of copper salts can also be your source of copper.
Neuropathy secondary to diseases
The most common neuropathy caused by a disease is the diabetic neuropathy. A big percentage of diabetic patients can be afflicted with damaged nerves. What is paramount here is for the patient to control the level of his blood sugar. A kind of diabetic neuropathy known as mononeuropathy may be reversible. But others are irreversible. Another disease that can lead to nerve damage is Myxedema or lack of thyroid hormone. The treatment for this disease is thyroid hormone replacement. There are some neuropathies that are associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Treatments prescribed for this type of neuropathy consist of intake of non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). The drugs relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Neuropathy due to toxic drugs
There are drugs that are toxic and their use can lead to neuropathy. The most common of these drugs are cancer drugs. The treatment for this type of neuropathy is lessening the dosage or totally stopping the use of the drugs. When neuropathy is due to isoniazid, the use can still be continued for treatment however, isoniazid should be used in conjunction with pyridoxine or Vitamin B-6.
Neuropathy due to nerve entrapment syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a kind of entrapment neuropathy that affects the median nerve. This is the nerve that supplies movements to the wrist. NSAID drugs can be used to relieve the pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome. For more severe condition, injections of steroid in the wrists are given to the patients. Patient may have to go through surgery if the injections do not provide relief.
As prevention from carpal tunnel syndrome, you should refrain from excessive typing and using hand tools. You should also be aware on how to handle hand tools to prevent damage to the nerve in the wrist. Another kind of entrapment neuropathy is the radial neuropathy which is mononeuropathy. This occurs when there is damage to the radial nerves in the arm. A third kind of entrapment neuropathy is the “meralgia paraesthetica” which is characterized by pain and numbness in upper outer thigh.
Neuropathy can emanate from different sources. There are different treatments for different individuals. The treatment may or may not provide complete relief. The ultimate goal of the treatment is to avoid progression and aggravation of the condition.