What Is Neuropathy? (Part 1 of 3)


Neuropathy is defined as a disease of the nervous system. Peripheral neuropathy is used to mean a degenerative condition of the peripheral nerves, typically the lower extremities (usually the legs from the knees to the feet) and occasionally the upper extremities (usually the arms from the wrists to the fingers).

Peripheral neuropathy is most often a slow and gradual dying of the peripheral sensory or afferent nerves. The peripheral motor or efferent nerves are only occassionally affected. A simple way to understand the different nerves is that when you touch a hot stove it’s your sensory or afferent nerves that tell the brain that it’s hot. You brain then transmits a signal along your motor or efferent nerves that control the hand and arm muscles that move your hand away from the hot stove.

Of special note is that about 90% of all peripheral neuropathy cases are a result of the nerve cells being unable to obtain adequate oxygen (hypoxia) and the essential nutrients to survive and thrive. The other 10% is caused by physical trauma.

What happens when a nerve cell doesn’t receive adequate oxygen and nutrients is that a demineralization of the synaptic fluid occurs which decreases the conductivity of the electrical signals (communication) between the nerves. This then causes the nerve cells to begin to shrink (called atrophy) and the gap between the nerve cells to widen. As the gap between the nerve cells widens, it becomes more and more difficult for normal sensations to travel to their neighboring nerve cells.

Dr. Don Surfing New Smyrna Beach Inlet

Dr. Don Surfing New Smyrna Beach Inlet

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