What is Nerve Weakness?

What is Nerve Weakness?

Nerve weakness is a clinical syndrome in which the peripheral nervous system is unable to adequately respond to normal nerve stimulation. Symptoms of neuropathy depend on which nerves are affected and how severely they are damaged.

Neuropathies affecting sensory nerves lead to chronic pain and paresthesia (numbness, tingling, and discomfort), while damage to motor nerves can cause paralysis and impaired coordination. Damage to autonomic nerves may result in a variety of symptoms, including abnormal heart rhythms, chronic constipation or diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, and loss of bladder control.

Causes of nerve weakness:

The most common causes of diabetic neuropathy are long-term high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) and damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish those nerves the large vessels supplying the legs with oxygenated blood from your heart.

High blood fat levels/cholesterol can damage these small vessels as well as make them more susceptible to blockage by other substances such as fatty plaque. When a critical number of neurons become starved for nutrients they lose function, die off, and are absorbed by the body. This is what causes peripheral neuropathy.

In addition to diabetes, other factors that may cause nerve damage include toxins, infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria, anemia, or a deficiency of certain vitamins which can reduce the ability of nerves to recover from injury.

Many nerve problems are due to a combination of these factors. The result may be acute or chronic pain, numbness, and weakness in muscles supplied by one or more nerves – usually those in your legs called “peripheral neuropathy.”

Chronic nerve pain is often described as a burning sensation along with stinging, shooting pains that worsen at night but may also affect daytime activities if severe enough. Numbness commonly occurs first in feet and hands followed by muscle pain and weakness.

Diabetes is the leading cause of nerve damage in both the U.S. and Europe. Other causes include excessive sun exposure, certain medications, alcohol abuse, vitamin B12 deficiency, history of cancer radiation therapy to the neck or spinal cord infections such as HIV, human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV I), immune disorders, or idiopathic for unknown reasons.

symptoms of nerve damage in the leg:

(a) numbness

(b) loss of muscle power and muscle mass in the thigh

(c) chronic weakness.

What are the causes of nerve damage:

Causes of nerve damage:

(a) trauma (to the nerves on impact or injury)

(b) prolonged compression (pressure against the nerve on a continuous basis) environment. For example, bodybuilders who perform heavy lifting on a regular basis can suffer this condition if required to suddenly reduce their workouts. It is also common in those who spend long hours driving or riding as passengers, and people with arthritis, diabetes, and other medical conditions can develop nerve damage.

types of nerve damage:

There are two types of nerve damage:

(1) Acute nerve injuries:

These occur suddenly and heal over time most commonly caused by trauma. If the injury is severe, complete recovery may take several months or years.

(2) Chronic nerve injuries:

These generally result from repetitive, long-term stress, and healing can take a very long time (if at all). This type of nerve damage is often permanent.

The most common symptoms of both acute and chronic nerve damage include:

(a) muscle weakness or paralysis

(b) sensory loss such as numbness or tingling sensations in the legs and feet. For example, individuals who have lost their ability to feel heat, cold, pain, sense of touch may injure themselves further or sustain more damage to the nerve without knowing it.

The most common causes of acute and chronic nerve damage include: 

(a) sports injuries such as a direct impact, overuse, and repetitive motions and strokes

(b) unhealthy posture leading to constant pressure on the nerves. For example, people with obesity or arthritis tend to arch their back – putting pressure on the sciatic nerve – when standing which can cause pain, tingling sensation in legs, and even numbness.

(c) compression (pressure against the nerve for prolonged periods such as sitting improperly or car accidents). For example, those who spend long hours driving or riding as passengers can suffer from this type of injury if they sit in an incorrect position.

(d) an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

(e) diabetes, which affects the blood vessels supplying the nerves. For example, diabetic neuropathy occurs when high sugar levels damage the small blood vessels in the legs and feet, disrupting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your nerve cells.

(f) alcohol abuse which can weaken nerves over time, resulting in muscle cramps or reduced sensation in arms and legs; peripheral neuropathy is one common symptom of long-term alcohol misuse.

Spinal nerve damage symptoms:

(a) Weakness in an arm or leg

(b) Numbness, tingling, or lack of sensation

(c) Muscle stiffness and spasm

(d) Loss of bladder and/or bowel control

(e) Loss of sexual function

(f) Swallowing problems, speech difficulties.

The most common causes include:

(a) Spinal fractures:

These occur when the bones in the spine are weakened by osteoporosis (weak brittle bones). For example, a fall can cause several vertebrae to collapse onto each other like dominoes. This can also lead to compression on your spinal cord which may result in pain and nerve damage that paralyzes the muscles.

(b) Degenerative conditions:

Over time, the normal movement of your vertebrae and discs may cause one of them to slip forward and pinch the nerves in your spinal cord — a condition known as spondylolisthesis.

(c) Disc herniations:

Sometimes you can injure yourself by lifting something that is too heavy, or through sudden trauma such as a car accident or fall. The resulting damage can also trigger sciatica – pain that radiates from the lower back, down one leg; most commonly due to inflammation of a nerve root within the spine.

(d) Vertebral fractures:

These occur when one bone smashes into another. This impact causes the tissue covering the bones to tear, which results in bleeding between them and also within the spinal canal. This bleeding can cause swelling, bruising, and pressure on the nerves.

(e) Spinal surgery:

Long-term back pain that does not respond to treatment is sometimes treated with surgery which can potentially damage your nerves or result in scar tissue that gets compressed.

what is the treatment for nerve weakness:

(a) A complete medical exam will be carried out to determine the cause of your symptoms, which can help in determining the type of treatment required.

(b) The initial focus of treatment is typically directed toward relieving pressure on the nerves and giving any affected nerves time to heal. This is usually done with painkillers, bed rest, and medications such as beta-blockers or antidepressants.

Cure for nerve injuries:

(a) Nerve damage is usually permanent, but sometimes your body can spontaneously recover from a spinal cord injury particularly if it occurs at the lowest section (the lumbosacral spine) since this segment has more motor neurons than other parts of your spine.

For example, extremely good outcomes have been reported among patients who sustained complete spinal cord injuries at the T10 level, with an average of about three years of initial paralysis followed by full recovery.

(b) If you are experiencing neuropathy symptoms in the longer term and aren’t certain what is causing it and your doctor hasn’t been able to find a cause, then you can try to treat this symptom on your own by looking into the underlying causes first and making lifestyle changes that support good circulation and reduce inflammation such as eating a healthier diet or participating in cardiovascular exercise.

(c) If your doctor suspects some kind of nerve damage as the underlying cause, he might recommend prescription medications designed to relieve common neuropathy symptoms such as pain, numbness or tingling sensations, muscle cramps and spasms, and urinary or bowel control problems, along with lifestyle changes that may help to prevent further damage to the nervous system. Food items that contain omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods like oily fish) appear to be particularly effective in reducing inflammation of nerve cells.

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