Sensory Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

A wide variety of factors, from genetic inheritance to inflammatory diseases such as lupus, can cause nerve damage. These disorders are known as peripheral neuropathies and cause symptoms related to the sensory pathways, movement or the autonomic nervous system.

One of the most common types of peripheral neuropathy is sensory neuropathy.which is characterized by the appearance of symptoms and signs related to the perception of sensations and occurs as a consequence of nerve injuries.

In this article we will analyze the most common symptoms, causes and treatments of this disorder.

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a category of diseases that affect the functioning of the nerves. The specific consequences of these alterations vary depending on which nerves are injured; It is common that they cause sensory and motor deficitsas well as dysfunctions in the organs and glands of the endocrine system.

Since the autonomic nervous system also contains nerve fibers, peripheral neuropathy is sometimes associated with disorders in functions such as breathing, blood circulation, and regulation of body temperature.

Some of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy They include systemic diseases such as diabetes or lupus erythematosus, the consumption of certain antibiotic medications, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, trauma, vitamin deficiency and viral infections. Sometimes it is transmitted by hereditary genetic mechanisms.

Types of peripheral neuropathy

We speak of “mononeuropathy” when the involvement is limited to a single nerve, while the term “polyneuropathy” is used to refer to cases in which multiple nerves in the same area are damaged. In contrast, multifocal mononeuropathy is diagnosed when more than one nerve is injured independently.

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The label “sensory neuropathy” is reserved for nerve disorders that predominantly affect the sensory system, mainly associated with touch and proprioception. In any case, it is very common for different types of neuropathy to appear together in the same person.

Symptoms

The characteristic symptoms of sensory neuropathy consist of the development of functional deficits in the senses, as well as the appearance of sensations that should not be perceived or that have a greater intensity than expected. The symptoms of sensory neuropathy tend to occur symmetrically in both hemispheres of the body.

Among the deficiency symptoms we find lack of sensitivity to tactile stimuli, such as sensations of texture, vibration or pressure, as well as pain. In addition, problems often occur in the perception of temperature changes and a reduction in the ability to detect intense heat or cold.

Very characteristic of sensory neuropathy is the loss of perception of body position, which is associated with deficits in balance, posture and coordination of movements, especially when standing and walking. It is common for the symptoms to be more pronounced in the feet, which further alters this type of function.

On the other hand, significant pain sensations may appear as a result of stimuli that are objectively not very painful (hyperalgesia) or that should not cause harm at all (allodynia). Sometimes itching, tingling, burning or stabbing pain without an identifiable cause is also perceived, and muscle tremors may appear.

In a large number of cases, sensory neuropathy occurs simultaneously with dysfunctions of the motor nerves. When this happens, the most common thing is that sensory symptoms appear first in the lower extremities and then develop. motor signs, such as muscle weakness and gait disturbances.

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Causes of this disorder

The scientific community has identified a large number of possible causes of sensory neuropathy. Some of the most common are the following:

Treatment and drugs

The treatment of the symptoms of sensory neuropathy focuses mainly on identifying the underlying cause in order to correct the core of the alterations. When this is not possible, therapy is directed at the relief of specific symptoms.

In this sense analgesic medications are often used (including therapeutic cannabis), as well as antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Among the antidepressant drugs, duloxetine and tricyclics such as nortriptyline and amitriptyline stand out, while gabapentin, pregabalin and sodium valproate are the most used antiepileptics.

On the other hand, recent research suggests that transcutaneous electrical neurostimulation therapy can be very effective in reducing pain symptoms, although the results are only maintained as long as the treatment continues.

In cases where neuropathy occurs as a consequence of complications in a case of diabetes mellitusmanaging blood glucose levels may be enough to correct problems.