Peripheral neuropathy is a term used to describe disorders of your peripheral nervous system. Your peripheral nervous system includes nerves in your face, arms, legs, torso, and some nerves in your skull. All of your nerves not located in your central nervous system (which includes the brain and the spinal cord) are peripheral nerves. Neuropathies may affect just one nerve (mononeuropathy) or several nerves (polyneuropathy). Your nerves provide communication between your brain and your muscles, skin, internal organs and blood vessels. When damaged (as can happen with Lupus), your nerves can't communicate properly, and that miscommunication causes symptoms such as pain or numbness.
Peripheral neuropathy often affects people with diabetes and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Certain vitamin deficiencies, some medications and alcoholism can also damage peripheral nerves.
Neurological symptoms may occur related to your central nervous system, which consists of your brain and spinal cord, or your peripheral nervous system, which links your spinal cord and brain to all other parts of your body. The extensive network of peripheral nerves includes the motor nerves, which help your muscles contract, and the sensory nerves, which allow you to feel a range of sensations. In addition, your peripheral nerves help control some of the involuntary functions of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates your internal organs, sweat glands and blood pressure. Your symptoms will depend on the cause of your neuropathy and on which nerve or nerves are involved.
If a sensory nerve is damaged, you'r symptoms might be: Pain, numbness, Tingling, Muscle weakness, Burning, and Loss of feeling
You may have a tingling sensation or numbness that starts in your toes or the balls of your feet and spreads upward. Tingling might also begin in your hands and extend up your arms. In some cases, your skin may become so sensitive that the slightest touch is painful. You may also have numbness, or even a complete lack of feeling, in your hands or feet.
Your symptoms can be constant, especially at night when they can become almost unbearable.
If your motor nerves are affected, you may have weakness or paralysis of the muscles controlled by those nerves. And if you have damage to nerves that control certain functions of the autonomic nervous system, you might have bowel or bladder problems, reduced sweating or impotence. You might also experience a sharp fall in your blood pressure when you stand up, which may cause you to faint or feel lightheaded.
Neuropathies can be caused by several things, including Lupus (especially vasculitis caused by Lupus). When damage occurs to several nerves, the cause frequently is diabetes or another illness, such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, liver disease and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Also, they can be caused by some toxic substances and certain medications (especially those used to treat cancer, like Methotrexate). You're more likely to develop peripheral neuropathy if you have an autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
You may inherit a tendency to develop peripheral neuropathy also. Also, bacterial or viral infections can cause neuropathy. For example, an acute condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome frequently causes severe damage to all or part of your peripheral nerves by destroying the myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers. The myelin sheath acts as an insulator for your nerves and helps conduct nerve impulses. Although the exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome isn't known, most cases occur after an infection, surgery or immunization.
The goal of treatment is to manage the underlying condition causing your neuropathy and repair damage, as well as provide symptom relief. Therefore, treatment will be aimed at controlling your immune response. However, controlling a chronic condition, such as Lupus, may not eliminate your neuropathy, but it can play a key role in managing it. The best way to prevent and/or treat peripheral neuropathy is to carefully manage the medical condition that put you at risk or caused it.
Yes, neuropathy can be progressive. However, when it is, it is generally known as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. The word "demyelinating" means a stripping of the insulation (myelin) around nerve fibers, which leads to substantial slowing of conduction velocity (as suggested by the EMG). High CSF protein is quite typical with CIDP. CSF protein is cerebrospinal fluid. To measure this, doctors use the CSF total protein test to determine the amount of protein in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear fluid that circulates in the space surrounding the spinal cord. An abnormal protein level in the CSF suggests that there is an abnormal process occurring in the central nervous system. CIDP does not appear to be your particular problem, however.
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