Neuropathy is a kind of nerve damage resulting not due to a single health condition but a range of health issues, and also involving peripheral nerve damage. Hence, it is also termed as peripheral neuropathy. Damage to these peripheral nerves causes weakness and pain in the extremities, and this pain is described as a stabbing pain or tingling sensation based on the severity.
There are different types of neuropathy based on the number of types of nerves getting affected. They are mononeuropathy and polyneuropathy. Neuropathy occurring only in one nerve is mononeuropathy, while multiple nerves getting affected is polyneuropathy. When both the sensory and motor nerves are damaged, it is called as sensorimotor polyneuropathy, where the damage happens to nerve cells, axons, and myelin sheaths. Distal symmetric polyneuropathy is common among diabetics, wherein nerves distant from the central nervous system get affected first.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
The symptoms of neuropathy include the following:
Temporary or permanent numbness
Tingling, prickling, or burning sensation
Increased sensitivity to touch
Impairment to urination and sexual function
Sharp throbbing, freezing, or burning pain
Lack of coordination and falling
Heat intolerance and altered sweating
Causes of Neuropathy
The cause for neuropathy ranges from diabetes and chemotherapy to autoimmune conditions, such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, idiopathic peripheral neuropathy, and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Some of the other causes for neuropathy include:
Metabolic disorders, for eg, hypoglycemia or kidney failure
Autoimmune disorders like celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus
Exposure to poisons
Bone marrow disorders
A lot of conditions cause peripheral neuropathy. Thus various examinations are required to diagnose the potential causes. Besides a physical examination, diagnostic test also has to be performed, diagnostic test includes:
A full medical history will be assessed by the doctor, which including symptoms, lifestyle, exposure to toxins, drinking habits, and the family history of neurological diseases.
Neurological examinations are carried out, wherein tendon reflexes, muscle strength and tone, and ability to feel certain sensations are observed.
Blood tests are done to detect vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, and other indications causing peripheral neuropathy.
Imaging tests like CT or MRI scans are performed to look for herniated disks and tumors.
Nerve function tests are carried out
Neuropathy has no cure, though the damage and severity can be managed. Medications help relieve pain symptoms and improve sleep and quality of life. Anti-seizure and antiepileptic medications are the most used to relieve symptoms. Neuro-modulation or surgery is also prescribed. Neuro-modulation helps in turning off the pain signals, while surgery releases the pressure on a nerve.
Stem Cell Therapy for Neuropathy
Research studies showed that stem cells are potent enough to differentiate into multiple lineage specific cells, thus being capable of restoring the functionality of specified damaged organs. Stem cells isolated from Umbilical cord, adipose tissue and bone marrow able to show that they can able to differentiate into neuronal and neural cells. Also, many scientific researches have proved that stem cells has the capability of angiogenesis i.e. they can able to form blood vessels, which is the major problem with Neuropathic conditions, wherein there is no blood supply to the nerve which in turn lose its function. Stem cell infusions can able to restore the blood vessel around the nerve and restore the functions of nerves. Thus stem cell based interventions has shown gratifying results for Neuropathic conditions.