What Is Idiopathic Neuropathy?
Certain kinds of nerve damage can significantly hinder the operations of the peripheral nervous system. When this happens we talk about neuropathy. Along with several other kinds of neuropathy, we have idiopathic neuropathy, which is very difficult to treat since ‘idiopathic’ means that the cause of the nerve damage cannot be determined.
The function of the peripheral nervous system is to transfer information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. This transfer of information is performed through nerves and damaging them causes severe problems in communication between the central nervous system and the relative part of the body.
The symptoms greatly depend on the type of the nerve which is affected. They range from impaired sensation and motor skills, functions of different organs or glands and many more.
For example, sensory nerves are in charge of sending information that gives us the feelings of touch or temperature changes; autonomic nerves relay information about involuntary things like digestion, breathing, heart function and motor nerves, as their name suggests, help the brain control muscles. This diversity of functions of the peripheral nervous system means that the symptoms of idiopathic neuropathy can differ greatly.
Idiopathic neuropathy is called acute or chronic neuropathy, depending on the tempo of the development of its symptoms. Sudden development of symptoms is the characteristic of acute neuropathy, while idiopathic neuropathy with gradual increase in the systems’ severity is called chronic.
What Are the Symptoms of Idiopathic Neuropathy?
As already explained, the symptoms can vary significantly depending on the type of the nerves which are affected.
Moreover, many of them are very similar to the symptoms of several other conditions, so they are difficult to notice. Lastly, the initial symptoms of chronic idiopathic neuropathy can be very mild and often neglected by the patients until their severity increases.
We will separate the symptoms according to the types of nerves which are affected.
Autonomic idiopathic neuropathy is accompanied by disorders regarding sweating, stomach issues such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, dizziness which can lead to fainting, changes in blood pressure and heart rate and sexual dysfunction.
Motor idiopathic neuropathy is mostly connected to muscles. In this case patients can experience loss of control, twitching, spasms and cramps, problems with moving and coordinating limbs and general weakening of muscles.
Sensory idiopathic neuropathy produces burning sensation or numbness, paresthesias, increased or reduced feeling of pain, loss of reflexes and coordination, not sensing temperature changes and more.
What Is the Cause of Idiopathic Neuropathy?
The name idiopathic neuropathy automatically means that the exact cause is not known. General peripheral neuropathy affects about 20 million people in the US and about a third of those suffer from diabetes. For about 30-40% of patients, their neuropathy is idiopathic and the cause for their disorder cannot be traced.
It is thought that some of the most common causes include various kinds of nerve injury, hereditary conditions, problems with hormones, toxicity, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, vascular disorders and tumors.
What Is the Treatment for Idiopathic Neuropathy?
At this moment there is no cure for idiopathic neuropathy and the most common treatment options include drugs, physical therapy and changes in daily routines and behaviour including dieting and exercise.
Every form of peripheral neuropathy, including idiopathic neuropathy, has to be treated, or it can cause permanent damage to nerves. However, for idiopathic neuropathy the only option is to successfully manage symptoms.
Mobility aids such as special shoes, canes and similar help the patients with motor problems. Physical therapy is also important as is weight management. Diet also needs to be rich in vitamins. Periods of rest and exercising are necessary to strengthen the muscles but also do not put too much strain on the body.
One of the most pressing challenges is managing pain. This is done using medication such as opioids and other analgesics, as well as anti-seizure medications and even antidepressants. However, all of these come with side effects and they are usually not suitable for long-term use.
This is why palmitolethanolamide (PEA ) is a far better option for treating pain, but also inflammation and not only due to its efficacy, but also safety and lack of side effects. PEA reduces neutrophils influx and inhibits COX-2 and iNOS. This leads to severe reduction in pain sensation.
Other mechanisms that PEA exerts on the immune system bring noticeable reduction of excessive inflammation.
However, PEA’s biggest advantage comes from its compatibility with any therapy and complete safety.
Unlike most other drugs, PEA can be used with any medication. It has no negative interactions with any of them, while it does promote the positive effects of some of them, including endogenous substances like anandamide. Many patients take PEA together with their prescribed therapy until its effects build up and reduce pain so that they can cut down on opioids or even cut them out completely.
As for safety, there is no way to build up tolerance on PEA, regardless of how long you take it. Secondly, palmitoylethanolamide, the only ingredient of PEA, has been tested through more than 400 studies and there have been no side effects. Lastly, due to the fact that PEA is broken down by enzymes present in the body, there is no way to overdose.
Neuropathic pain is very difficult to treat since its cause often remains unaddressed, while drugs with adverse side effects leave their mark. However, PEA makes it possible to treat the pain but do away with the accompanying problems with side effects and habituation