What is a neuropathy?
A person with a neuropathy has one or more malfunctioning nerves. A neuropathy can affect any nerve in the body. A person with a peripheral neuropathy has damage to nerves that carry information between the body and the spinal cord. A person with an autonomic neuropathy has damage to the nerves that control involuntary functions, such as digestion, breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure regulation. Common causes of a neuropathy include diabetes, high blood pressure, vitamin deficiencies, and alcoholism.
What are the symptoms of a neuropathy?
Symptoms of a neuropathy vary with the type of nerves that are affected. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include leg numbness and leg weakness. Additional symptoms that occur with peripheral neuropathy include leg swelling, foot swelling, leg pain, rash on the legs, skin ulcers, tremor, difficulty walking, and weak pulses in the wrists and feet. Symptoms of an autonomic neuropathy may include low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, constipation, excessive sweating, or difficulty urinating.
How does the doctor treat a neuropathy?
Treatment for a neuropathy depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for a neuropathy may include vitamin supplements, the complete avoidance of alcohol, or strict control of the blood sugar in a diabetic.
- Carter GT. Rehabilitation management of peripheral neuropathy. Semin Neurol. 2005 Jun;25(2):229-37. 
- Corbett CF. Practical management of patients with painful diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes Educ. 2005 Jul-Aug;31(4):523-4, 526-8. 
- Malik RA. Current and future strategies for the management of diabetic neuropathy. Treat Endocrinol. 2003;2(6):389-400. 
- Olson DE, Norris SL. Diabetes in older adults. Overview of AGS guidelines for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in geriatric populations. Geriatrics. 2004 Apr;59(4):18-24. 
- Pagnoux C, Guillevin L. Peripheral neuropathy in systemic vasculitides. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2005 Jan;17(1):41-8. 
- Pratt RW, Weimer LH. Medication and toxin-induced peripheral neuropathy. Semin Neurol. 2005 Jun;25(2):204-16. 
- Sullivan KA, Feldman EL. New developments in diabetic neuropathy. Curr Opin Neurol. 2005 Oct;18(5):586-90. 
- White CM, Pritchard J, Turner-Stokes L. Exercise for people with peripheral neuropathy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004 Oct 18;(4):CD003904.