May 21, 2012

Neuropathy Causes

Just because you have diabetes, does not mean that you will develop neuropathy. And, if you have peripheral neuropathy does not mean you have diabetes. Yet time and time again, these are touted as being facts and even medical guidelines want us to believe this. Experts want us to believe this and my blog here shows where this is headed by the types of tests they want done if they think someone has neuropathy.

To this I say B.S.. I have been searching the web for more explanations and I have now found two articles that I believe give more meaning to neuropathy, causes, and treatments. I will refer you to my blog here, where I discuss the types of neuropathy. I also have four more blogs on different parts of neuropathy in the days following the first blog. I will have three more blogs on diabetic neuropathy following this one.

Now to discuss the causes of neuropathy. Although not mentioned specifically, smoking is a risk factor for peripheral neuropathy. Why so few sources do not mention this is unknown; however, most do advise stopping smoking as a treatment because of the damage it can do to the nerves. About 30 percent of neuropathy is idiopathic, meaning they are of unknown causes and about 30 percent of neuropathy is due to diabetes. The remaining cases of neuropathy are called acquired neuropathies and have the following possible causes:

Trauma or pressure on nerves, often from a cast or crutch or repetitive motion such as typing on a keyboard.
Nutritional problems and vitamin deficiencies, often from a lack of B vitamins. 
Alcoholism, often through poor dietary habits and vitamin deficiencies,
Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome,
Tumors, which often press up against nerves,
Other diseases and infections, such as kidney disease, liver disease, Lyme disease, HIV/AIDS, or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism),
Inherited disorders (hereditary neuropathies), such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and amyloid polyneuropathy,
Poison exposure, from toxins such as heavy metals, and certain medications and cancer treatments,
And metabolic disorders.

While this list may not be totally inclusive, it does account for about 40 percent of neuropathy cases. So if you have neuropathy, there are many possibilities to choose from and diabetes may not be the culprit. If you have diabetes and do not have neuropathy, keep it this way with tight management of your diabetes.

I would also point out that often people with diabetes can have the second item of vitamin deficiencies mentioned earlier and this can lead to neuropathy, especially deficiencies of Vitamin B1 and B12. I have urged people before to have these tests done to have a baseline for reference as soon as a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is made. This in turn will aid your doctors in proper diagnosis of neuropathy if it develops later. If your vitamin B's are okay then the neuropathy may be caused by your diabetes. Conversely, if you are deficient in Vitamin B1 or B12, maybe you neuropathy is not diabetes caused. Many physicians will not do the tests, but will declare diabetes as the cause of the neuropathy.

I feel that this article and this one are good reading for education about neuropathy. At least then you will have a good understanding of the types and causes of neuropathy. You will know when someone says they have diabetic neuropathy, they may or may not be correct in their assumptions unless they have had the tests and know that it is diabetes caused. I had my neuropathy about 10 years before my diagnosis of diabetes and at the time my neurologist said it was caused by smoking. Right? Probably, but there may have been other reasons behind it.

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