Neuropathy, neuritis, neuralgia – trouble with the nerve

Neuropathy, neuritis, neuralgia - trouble with the nerve

Nerves carry information to the brain and stimulate the muscles to respond appropriately. Without nerves, we wouldn’t flinch from the hot candle flame or feel the relaxing effects of warm water. However, like any other part of the body, nerves can also become damaged (neuropathy), often due to nerve inflammation  (neuritis) or injury. Possible consequences are a temporary loss of function or permanent destruction of the nerve and nerve pain (neuralgia).

functioning of our nervous system

The human nervous system includes countless small and large nerve fibres that transmit information received from sensors to higher-level centres where these stimuli are processed.

The responses, in turn, are relayed by nerves to the places where they are supposed to trigger specific actions. Without nerves, we could not respond appropriately to the outside world, nor could the different parts of the organism communicate with each other.


Causes: How does nerve damage occur?

  • The nerve is often affected by pressure – typical examples are functional failures in the event of a herniated disc or carpal tunnel syndrome; more rarely, a tumour can also squeeze a nerve.
  • (Metabolic) toxins can damage the nerve; they occur, for example, with diabetes or alcoholism or enter the body through medication or food (e.g. heavy metals). A lack of vitamins, especially folic acid, or multiple sclerosis can also impair nerve function. If several nerves are affected, one also speaks of polyneuropathy or – if inflammatory processes play a role – also of polyneuritis.
  • Nerve injuries or severed nerves occur, for example, in traffic accidents or through cuts and are also a possible complication of surgical interventions.
  • Infections can also cause nerve inflammation (neuritis). Chickenpox viruses can survive in the body and, in certain situations, trigger shingles, which is associated with typical nerve pain (zoster neuralgia). An HIV infection and Lyme disease can also be accompanied by neuralgia.

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