What Causes Nerve Damage?

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The sense of touch is essential to our daily experience, and nerves are the magic agents behind such an experience. Nerve Control 911 from PhytAge can help enhance the sensation of touch. From the soothing feeling of the rising sun against the skin to expressing love through hugs and the sharp pain when you get poked by a needle, nerve cells ensure you receive these impulses and transfer them to the brain for interpretation. 

However, damage to the nerves can devastate and disconnect us from the world and nature. This article will pinpoint the reasons for nerve damage, how to recognize it, and approaches to apply to manage or treat it.

 

What is Nerve Damage?

Nerve damage is a condition that can occur when the nerves are damaged or destroyed. Nerves are special cells that transmit information between the different body parts to the brain. Thus, they help the body interpret sensations and respond to stimuli, such as touch, sound, and light.

Nerve damage can cause a wide range of symptoms, from pain and numbness to muscle weakness, paralysis, and other problems. The symptoms typically depend on the type of nerve with the damage.

Types Of Nerve Damage

There are several types of nerve damage, each depending on the type and function of the damaged nerve. The following are common types of nerve damage.

  • Peripheral Neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy results from an injury to the peripheral nerves that connect the spinal cord to other body parts. This type of nerve damage is the most common, and it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected area. 
  • Central Pain Syndrome. This condition results from damage to the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. Likewise, damage to the autonomic nervous system can lead to this condition. The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare case affecting fewer than 100 thousand people annually. A person with this condition experiences constant, intense, and weakening pain in a limb. It is an inadequately studied condition often triggered by trauma and injury to neurons in the body.
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia. This type of nerve damage affects the neurons in the face. Patients feel sudden and intense pain in the face, like an electric shock in the jaw, teeth, or gums. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 150,000 people get diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia yearly. Although there is no exact cause for this sickness, neurologists often associate it with multiple sclerosis.
  • Postherpetic Neuralgia. Postherpetic Neuralgia is a condition that manifests on the skin and nerve fibers. It is the most common complication of shingles and causes searing pain even after the shingles rash and blisters disappear.

 

What Causes Nerve Damage?

 

Causes of Nerve Damage

Different conditions cause different types of nerve damage. For example, aging and diabetes are responsible for many cases. Let’s look at some other common causes.

  • Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a type of illness where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. They can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to life-threatening. There are many different autoimmune diseases, each affecting a different body part. Some of them, like Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, cause severe nerve damage.

  • Diabetes

According to the Center for Disease Control, at least 50 percent of people who have diabetes also suffer nerve damage. Nerve damage may become more evident in diabetic patients as the disease progresses. Unfortunately, neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetes and may affect all three types of neurons. The sensory nerves are the most affected, and the damage to these nerves causes a burning feeling or numbness.

  • Compression/trauma

Trauma or nerve compression can damage the nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves in the neck, and crush injuries can all cause nerve damage.

  • Motor neuron diseases

Motor neurons are the nerves in your brain and spinal cord that send signals to the muscles around the body.  Lou Gehrig’s disease damages motor neurons in the body. It progressively damages the motor neurons if not detected and managed at the early stages.

  • Drug side effects and toxic substances

Daily, you consume different types of substances, intentionally and unintentionally. These substances are capable of causing nerve damage. Chronic consumption of alcohol or ingestion of toxic substances like lead, mercury, and arsenic, can cause nerve damage. Also, medications used to treat HIV and chemotherapies for cancer may cause nerve damage.

  • Infectious disease 

Infections can cause damage to the nerves in several ways. The most common mechanism is direct physical damage to the nerve cells, wherein the infection causes inflammation in the area around the nerves. Infections can also damage the nerves indirectly by causing damage to the blood vessels that supply them with oxygen and nutrients. 

Some specific infectious diseases like herpes, HIV, hepatitis C, Lyme disease, and other common infectious diseases may cause nerve damage.

  • Tumors

Tumors in the body can pressure your neurons and damage your nerves, whether malignant or benign. In some cases, malignant tumors (cancer) can cause nutritional deficiencies that may limit nerve function.

  • Nutritional deficiencies 

A balanced supply of nutrients will boost nerve function, but deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamins B6 and B12 can damage your nerves. The nerve damage from nutrient deficiency symptoms includes a burning sensation and muscle weakness. 

 

What Causes Nerve Damage?

 

Symptoms of Nerve Damage

There is a range of symptoms that you can experience from different nerve injuries. Nerve injuries will affect more than one nerve fiber and manifest through many symptoms. The damaged nerve fiber and the extent of the injury will vary the symptoms you experience.

  • Motor neurons

These neurons control the deliberate movement of muscles in your body. Damaged motor neurons will be evident through painful muscle cramps, muscle weakness, and unmanageable muscle trembles.

  • Sensory neurons

These neurons communicate information about touch and feel, such as temperature and pain. You can experience trouble discerning pain, temperature changes, walking and keeping your balance with shut eyes, numbness or tingling in your limbs.

  • Autonomic neurons

They regulate unconscious survival activities such as breathing, digestion, and heart function. The symptoms you experience from injury to these nerves include gastrointestinal symptoms, fluctuations in blood pressure, and excessive sweating.

Treatment Of Nerve Damage

Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for nerve damage or neuropathy. Nerve damage is a progressive injury and will lead to permanent damage if the symptoms are not detected promptly. A diverse pool of treatment options will curb the possibility of permanent damage.

The basis of nerve damage treatment or management starts with detecting the condition (if any) causing the damage. It may mean any of the following according to the patient history:

  • Treatment options for autoimmune diseases.
  • Regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
  • Active physical therapy or surgery in the case of trauma and compression.
  • Switch medications when drugs are the underlying cause.
  • Supplements to correct nutritional deficiencies.

Nerve damage often comes with nerve pain, so your doctor may prescribe medications to alleviate it. These may include:

  • Pain relievers
  • Antidepressants
  • Capsaicin creams and other pain relieving creams and ointments; and
  • Anti-seizure drugs

Although not medically supported, alternative approaches can complement other treatments and ease nerve damage symptoms. These approaches include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis
  • Biofeedback
  • Electrical nerve stimulation; and
  • Antioxidant vitamins

Stay in Charge of Your Health

In our everyday lives, numerous activities can damage our nerves, some of which are inevitable while others are avoidable. From our movements to what we consume, we are all susceptible to some kind of nerve damage sometime in our lifetime. Knowing what can cause early detection is an effective way to avoid permanent nerve damage. 

 

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