Polyneuropathy: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention!
Polyneuropathy is a disease of the peripheral nervous system of various causes, which is associated with muscle weakness and emotional disturbances. The nervous system of the human being with the brain as supreme authority serves the control and control of all body and organ functions. Basically, a distinction is made between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, the former comprising all nerve structures above the spinal cord plane, including the brain, the latter all peripheral nerve fibres.
Polyneuropathy and nervous system
Like fine branches of a tree, the nerve fibres of the peripheral nervous system arise from the spinal cord and make contact with the “executing organs” such as muscles, skin or internal organs. The information exchange takes place via control pulses directed away from the brain and information via the brain, for example from the sense organs or the skin.
Just the passive, upright standing of a human being requires a tremendous coordination effort from the brain in order to fine-tune detailed information of sense organs such as equilibrium, eyes or touch sensors in the skin with the control of important muscle groups, especially of the legs. These processes, which are predominantly subconscious, are of course much more complex in complex movements. The ability to feel healthy in healthy individuals presupposes the existence of numerous, differently specialized sensors in the skin for tactile sense, heat and coldness or pain, and the forwarding of the corresponding information about the nervous system. The sense qualities described above are directed in the nerve as well as impulses from the brain to the muscles of specific fibres.
Triggers of polyneuropathy
The individual forms of polyneuropathy are disorders of the peripheral nervous system as a whole. The following diseases or factors can be considered as the cause of a polyneuropathy:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Disorders of the immune system
- Rheumatic diseases
- kidney disease
The polyneuropathies are thus often the expression or reaction of the peripheral nervous system to a disease or damage affecting the organism as a whole. Depending on which functions of the nerve are particularly affected, one speaks of sensitive, motor or mixed sensory-motor polyneuropathies.
Symptoms of polyneuropathy
On the basis of the predominantly affected nerve quality, the infestation pattern, as well as the course, very different manifestations of the polyneuropathy, are distinguished. The spectrum ranges from purely sensitive polyneuropathies with emotions or disorders of the skin via purely motoric polyneuropathies with muscular paralysis to mixed forms of polyneuropathy.
An important criterion for distinguishing the disease is the question whether the nerve damage affects primarily the internal nerve conduction of the nerve, or rather the external covering also called myelin sheath. The latter acts as “electrical insulation” and is of considerable importance for the conduction velocity of the nerve.
The diagnosis of a polyneuropathy can be seen in the patients’ complaints, the neurological examination, blood tests, as well as special examination procedures of the muscles and the peripheral nerves, which allow a differentiation of the individual forms of polyneuropathy. By electromyography and determination of the nerve conduction velocities, damage to the “nerve insulation” of the nerve fibres itself can be delimited, which can be of diagnostic or therapeutic importance.
Treatment of polyneuropathy
The treatment possibilities of the various forms of polyneuropathy depend on the underlying cause. In immuno-conditioned polyneuropathies such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, panarteriitis nodosa or rheumatoid arthritis, primarily immunosuppressive therapy forms, for example with cortisone, azathioprine or other substances are considered. Other alternative methods in Guillain-Barré syndrome are the administration of so-called immunoglobulins or plasmapheresis, in which harmful immune factors are excised from the body.
For the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy, an effective control of the diabetic metabolism is indicated by weight reduction, medication or insulin. The sensory disturbances, pain and muscle cramps on the legs also react in individual cases to preparations such as carbamazepine or thioacid.
In case of poisoning, the spontaneous or drug removal of the particular toxin from the body comes first. Alcoholism requires strict alcohol abstinence and administration of vitamin B1 preparations.
Polyneuropathies, which occur in other basic diseases such as kidney damage or tumours, are treated by the therapy of the basic disease.
Although there are possibilities of prevention in the case of poisoning, some in the case of diabetes, not in immunoconditioned polyneuropathies. The corresponding principles are dealt with in the presentation of the respective basic diseases.