Neuropathy is a term used to describe abnormalities and diseases that affect the nerves in the peripheral system.
The nervous system is composed of two parts, the central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system or PNS is responsible for relaying messages or electrical impulses between the central nervous system, the brain, and spinal cord, to the rest of the body. The nerves in the PNS are responsible for a large range of activity throughout the body that includes voluntary muscle movements, involuntary organ activity, and the perception of stimuli.
If there is damage or injury done to the nerves in the PNS it will greatly affect an individuals’ ability to perform normal daily activities. Peripheral neuropathy or simply called neuropathy can be a debilitating disease that will greatly affect a person’s way of life.
Three types of peripheral nerves that can be affected by neuropathy:
- Autonomic nerves – responsible for the involuntary functions in the body
- Sensory nerves – responsible for transmitting messages from the rest of the body to the brain
- Motor nerves – responsible for the muscle movement and coordination
When neuropathy only affects one nerve it is called mononeuropathy. Examples of this condition are ulnar neuropathy or the nerves in the elbow, radial neuropathy or the nerves in the arm, peroneal neuropathy or the nerves in the knee, femoral neuropathy or the nerves in the thigh area and cervical neuropathy or the nerves in the neck.
In some cases, there are two or more nerves affected by neuropathy that is located in different parts of the body. This condition is called mononeuritis multiplex neuropathy.
Polyneuropathy is the termed used if there are malfunctions in multiple peripheral nerves at the same time.
Causes of Neuropathy
Neuropathy can be inherited or can be later acquired in life. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is an example of inherited neuropathy. It is by far the most common type of neuropathy.
Though there is no specific cause of an acquired neuropathy, experts are able to determine that there are many known causes that will result in neuropathy. Systemic diseases, physical trauma, infectious diseases as well as autoimmune disorders are known to cause neuropathy.
Diabetes is a systemic disease and considered the most common cause for the development of neuropathy. Other systemic disorders that can also affect the peripheral nerves are:
- Kidney disorders
- Hepatic or liver disorders
- Cancer and tumors
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Chronic inflammation that can cause damage to protective tissues around nerves
- Blood vessel damage
If you think you are suffering from Neuropathy you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Neuropathy as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).