Is Peripheral Neuropathy A Neurological Condition?

A man sitting on a bench

People living with diabetes are at risk of developing several common conditions, including one called peripheral neuropathy. Roughly 50% of diabetic adults will eventually be affected by peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is so prevalent that it’s important to understand what it is and how it can affect you.

So, what is this condition? Is peripheral neuropathy a neurological disorder? Is it curable? What symptoms do neuropathic patients experience — and how can you manage your symptoms wisely? We’ll go over all of these questions and more below.

What is a neurological disorder?

Neurological disorders are conditions or diseases that affect the central or peripheral nervous system. Depending on where damage has occurred, these conditions may result in physical, psychological, or even both symptoms.

Some of the most common neurological disorders include:

  • Epilepsy and seizures: Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures resulting from abnormal or excessive electrical activity in the brain. The nature and intensity of seizures vary, reflecting the area of the brain affected, and they may include convulsions, sensory disturbances, or loss of consciousness. Neurologists play a crucial role in diagnosing and managing epilepsy through medication, lifestyle adjustments, and, in some cases, surgical interventions.
  • Dementia: Dementia encompasses a range of neurological disorders that impair cognitive function, memory, and the ability to perform daily tasks. The decline in mental function is progressive and often linked to damaged nerve cells in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia, with neurologists involved in its diagnosis and management.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that leads to atrophy and death of brain cells, resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s is still under investigation but is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain’s structure.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome: This is an acute neurological disorder where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the peripheral nerves, leading to weakness, numbness, and potentially paralysis. The exact cause is unknown, but it often follows an infection. Neurologists are vital in diagnosing Guillain-Barré syndrome and overseeing the often-intensive medical care required.
  • Meningitis: Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This neurological emergency can result from bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections and requires prompt medical attention. 
  • Bell’s palsy: Bell's palsy is a neurological condition that results in sudden weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles, typically on one side. It is believed to occur due to facial nerve inflammation, which controls facial muscles.
  • Brain tumors: Brain tumors are growths of abnormal cells within the brain or central spinal canal. Depending on their location, type, and growth rate, they can disrupt normal brain function. Neurologists and neurosurgeons work together to diagnose and treat brain tumors, with treatments ranging from watchful waiting and medication to radiation therapy and surgery.

Neurological diseases have many causes, including genetic abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, infections, brain injuries, and more. Likewise, symptoms vary, as neurological conditions can affect everything from movement and sensation to breathing, speech, memory, and mood. Outcomes and treatments are diverse as well, though most neurological conditions and their related symptoms are chronic and will require lifelong care.

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves that connect your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body are damaged. It has a variety of causes, with some of the most common being:

Peripheral neuropathy may be acquired (for example, through a traumatic accident or radiation exposure) or may be inherited. Peripheral neuropathy is commonly categorized depending on how many nerves are damaged. The two common types of peripheral neuropathy are: 

  • Mononeuropathy — in which only one nerve or one type of nerve is damaged.
  • Polyneuropathy — in which many nerves have sustained damage.

One of the most common types of peripheral neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy. It is often characterized by the appearance of foot problems, including numbness, loss of feeling, ulcers, dry skin, ingrown toenails, and more.

Is peripheral neuropathy a neurological disease?

The answer is a resounding yes. It is considered a neurological disease because peripheral neuropathy affects the peripheral nerves. In fact, not only is peripheral neuropathy a neurological condition, but it is also one of the most commonly occurring neurological disorders today.

Peripheral neuropathy occurs when peripheral nerves (the nerves that help control muscles, skin, internal organs, etc.) become damaged and can no longer communicate with the brain and spinal cord nerves.

Is Peripheral Neuropathy Hereditary

Peripheral neuropathy can be complex and challenging, with symptoms ranging from mild tingling to severe pain in the extremities. While factors such as diabetes and exposure to toxins are common culprits, it's intriguing to explore genetics' role in this condition. Hereditary peripheral neuropathies indeed exist, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease stands out as a prominent example, showcasing how genetic mutations can be passed down through generations, leading to nerve damage and a range of symptoms.

However, it’s crucial to highlight that not every peripheral neuropathy is tied to one’s genes; many are acquired from external factors or other medical issues. Delving into a person’s medical and family history, conducting thorough clinical examinations, and possibly genetic testing become invaluable tools in uncovering the root of the problem.

There’s a certain relief in understanding the cause, especially regarding conditions as impactful as peripheral neuropathy. For those with a hereditary form, this knowledge can demystify their experience, guiding them towards targeted management strategies and providing essential information for family members. In the end, whether genetic or acquired, what stands paramount is the pursuit of understanding, proper care, and support, painting a clearer picture of peripheral neuropathy and the many facets it holds.

Understanding and treating peripheral neuropathy

Is peripheral neuropathy a neurological condition? It is — and as such, it requires the proper care and concern to help ensure that it doesn’t continue to develop. Neuropathy symptoms vary widely from merely inconvenient to life-threatening. In some cases, symptoms may only affect a small part of the body, such as a single finger; in other cases, symptoms may impact whole limbs.

No matter your symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical assistance to find the right treatment. This may help prevent further damage and also make life more enjoyable by mitigating painful or uncomfortable symptoms.

While most neuropathies can’t be cured, many can be treated to limit symptoms effectively. Treatment success usually depends on identifying an underlying cause and combining the proper treatment options. There are many different tactics you can use to help treat neuropathy pain, including:

  • Physical therapy or other therapies
  • Mechanical aids such as braces or splints
  • Surgery or other medical treatments
  • Lifestyle changes to help treat the underlying condition
  • Avoiding certain substances (i.e. certain medications, toxic substances, alcohol, etc.)
  • Medications
  • Pain management techniques

It is important to work closely with your doctor or healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause of your neuropathy. Doing so will allow you to create the most effective treatment plan to help prevent continuous damage and make your current pain or discomfort more manageable.

Remember that many options are available to help you treat neuropathic pain at home. From simple lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise and maintaining your blood sugar levels to cutting back on alcohol and quitting smoking, you can take many simple steps to start managing pain more effectively. One of the most popular and deceptively simple options is investing in a high-quality pair of diabetic socks.

Managing peripheral neuropathy pain with diabetic socks

Many people living with neuropathy experience chronic pain, especially in the extremities. This can make it extremely difficult to live as you’d like. Resources such as diabetic socks can help you achieve your pain management goals to enjoy a higher quality of life.

Taking care of your feet is an important task. Non-binding diabetic socks are designed to help protect and comfort your feet without creating the painful pressure marks common to regular socks. At Viasox, we’re proud to offer diabetic socks that are even stretchier than most and can accommodate calves up to 30 inches in circumference.

In addition to providing foot support and comfort, our diabetic socks and compression socks can help you manage pain associated with neuropathy. They can:

  • Help relieve numbness
  • Reduce swelling in the lower extremities
  • Improve blood flow
  • Help prevent injuries and infections

Shop online at Viasox for North America’s finest diabetic Socks

Here at Viasox, we’re proud to provide comfortable, beautiful, ultra-stretchy diabetic socks throughout North America. Whether you’re looking for a classic pattern or funky design, want to buy in bulk, or only need a single pair, the Viasox team is happy to help.

Our range of diabetic socks includes both non-binding and compression options in various styles, sizes, and colors to ensure that you’ll be able to find the style that best fits your needs. Shop online with us today to discover diabetic socks that can help improve your life.

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