Neuropathy, Neuritis, Neuralgia – Symptoms

Neuropathy, Neuritis, Neuralgia - Symptoms

How is nerve damage manifested?

The main symptoms of neuropathy are expressed in the parts of the body supplied by the affected nerve: functional impairments of muscles up to paralysis, sensory disturbances, regulatory disturbances of the skin and nerve pain; the reflexes can also be altered. The symptoms’ type, location and extent depend primarily on the nerves affected and the trigger.


Signs of polyneuropathy

Polyneuropathy typically begins with abnormal sensations in the skin (especially pins and needles), symmetrical sensory disturbances, and more sock-like localized on the legs. Paralysis and muscle wasting only appear later.

A sciatica syndrome, on the other hand, often manifests itself primarily through nerve pain that pulls into the leg; a herniated disc often shows muscle paralysis and numb spots on the skin at an early stage.

What is typical of neuralgia?

Nerve pain shoots up suddenly, rises and falls in waves or exists as constant pain. Some occur spontaneously, i.e. without a recognizable trigger; others are “triggered” by certain factors (e.g. cold, touch). Nerve pain does not occur at the point where the nerve is damaged but along its course.

This is because the brain maps nerve pain to the areas of the body where the nerve fibres are located to register pain. For example, if an intervertebral disc presses on the sciatic nerve where it passes through the vertebral foramina, it does not hurt there (muscle spasms cause the back pain), but primarily on the back of the thigh, where the pain receptors of the sciatic nerve are located. Incidentally, this is also how phantom pains occur after amputations.


trigeminal neuralgia and Morton’s neuralgia

Nerve pain in the head area often occurs in the form of trigeminal neuralgia. This lightning-fast, stabbing or burning pain, usually limited to one side of the face, is extremely severe and is often triggered by activities such as speaking, chewing or brushing your teeth. In most cases, trigeminal neuralgia is believed to be caused by pressure damage from a nearby blood vessel.

Similar pain in the metatarsal area (usually between the third and fourth toes), which is triggered by touch, for example, is known as Morton’s neuralgia. It is caused by nerve damage likely resulting from chronic pressure from a splayfoot.

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