Peripheral Neuropathy Is More Than The Loss Of Touch

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The sense of touch is provided by a vast network of different sensory cells and nerves located within our skin. In fact, with some of the highest concentrations of receptors, our finger tips have roughly 2500 sensory receptors per square centimeter or 16100 per square inch. Each of our hands has roughly 17,000 of just the touch sensors. Nerves collect all of the signals generated by these various sensory cells.

Working together, these nervous system cells detect pressure, temperature, vibration and, obviously, pain. The signals that these cells create are fed into progressively larger nerve bundles, the spine and ultimately these signals reach the brain. Within the brain, the signals are interpreted. This occurs, of course, unless the sensor cells or the nerves along the path are damaged, a condition called Peripheral Neuropathy.

The injury of the skin’s network of nerves and sensor cells is called Peripheral Neuropathy because the nerve cells involved form a part of the peripheral nervous system.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

While damage can occur anywhere along the route from the sensory cells to the brain, the most common location for injury is within the skin. This makes sense if you think about the large area of the skin and that this organ is the barrier between our insides and the outside world. As a result, many different types of injuries or diseases affecting the skin can impair the ability of nerves in the skin to properly send signals. Even though nerve damage can occur in any area of our skin, most cases occur in the hands and feet.

While we might be inclined to think of nerve damage as preventing nerve signals from passing at all, as in the case of a severed spinal chord, that is not necessarily the case. Peripheral nerve injury can cause both signals to be lost and invalid signals to be sent. This is because the nerve damage often involves the protective layer on the surface of nerve cells rather than simply a break between nerve cells. When this layer is damaged, the signals passing through the nerve can be distorted resulting in unexpected nerve sensations.

What Are The Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Among the symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy, the most common are those related to the sense of touch. Numbness, sensitivity to touch and tingling of affected areas is common. At the same, burning sensations and pain can also occur but are less common. If some cases, neuropathic pain treatment can be required due to the severity of the pain.

Other symptoms associated with Peripheral Neuropathy relate to the lack of effective nerve interaction with affected areas. This can mean a lack of sweating in certain locations. As well it can cause the skin to have too much or too little blood flow. This subsequently appears as skin that is flushed or white in appearance. It can also mean dry or shiny skin. In the worst cases, it can lead to atrophy of the area.

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Category: Disease Information, Health Risks, Symptom Information

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