Compression Neuropathies in Extremities


Compression Neuropathies in Extremities

The many types of neuropathies are a series of complex conditions that can take many forms and be caused by many different things depending on the type of neuropathy that is diagnosed. Understanding what your specific neuropathy is and what the symptoms are is the first step in taking control of your condition.

What are Neuropathies?

This term describes a problem with the nerves (typically the peripheral nerves) and it could involve one of three nerve types. These three different nerves include:

  • Sensory Nerves – an issue with these nerves causes tingling, pain, numbness, and weakness in the hands and feet
  • Motor Nerves – issues with these nerves causes weakness in the hands and feet
  • Autonomic Nerves – an problem with these nerves causes changes in the heart rate and blood pressure as well as swelling

There are two major types of neuropathies and knowing this information can help determine the severity of the issue you are currently suffering from. These two types include mononeuropathy and it affects a single nerve. The other is called polyneuropathy and affects several different nerves.

When studying the specific forms of neuropathies, a common form is called compression neuropathy. This is caused by damage to sensory nerve roots or even peripheral nerves and could potentially have many different causes.

What are Common Causes and Symptoms?

Compression neuropathy is caused by mechanical pressure or occasionally localized trauma from an injury to a specific area. This form of neuropathy is normally characterized by paresthesia, weakness or even paralysis. This will depend on what specific form of neuropathy you may have.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes are the most common causes of compression neuropathy although they are not the only causes. This being the most common cause is because with diabetes the nerves are swollen and when these nerves run through certain tight channels within the body, they become compressed. This causes the resulting pain and numbness.

Treatment Options

The most popular form of treatment is surgery although there may be other options for your form of compression neuropathy. The decompression surgery relieves the compression on the nerves and can reduce or completely eliminate pain, improve sensation, improve balance and also prevent ulcerations or amputations. This form of surgery has great results and it is estimated that about 80% of diabetic and pre-diabetic patients have some success from receiving this surgery.

Checking for other conditions is very important because some forms of compression neuropathy have causes that can be treated without the need for surgery. For example, if the issue is a thyroid based problem, other treatment options may be a possibility.

Common Forms of Compression Neuropathies

There are many forms of compression neuropathies that are common and well known.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    • caused by compression of a nerve in the wrist
    • Involves numbness in the first three fingers.
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
    • caused by compression of ulnar nerve at elbow
    • Numbness in 4th and 5th fingers, hand weakness
  • Radial Nerve Neuropathy
    • compression of radial nerve in forearm or upper arm
    • Often follows humeral fractures and surgery
    • Forearm pain, weak wrist dorsiflexion or finger extension
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
    • caused by compression of the tibial nerve in the ankle
    • also called posterior tibial neuralgia
  • Meralgia Paresthetica (LFCN Neuropathy)
    • caused by compression of a nerve in the thigh area
    • may follow surgery in groin/hip area, professions caring belts around waist, like police officers, fire fighters, contractors
  • Foot Drop
    • most often caused by an injury to the peroneal nerve
    • there are options for treatment beyond surgery although surgery is an option that can be considered

Compression neuropathies include many different forms and have just as many causes. Understanding the proper form of treatment begins with first understanding what the cause was. While diabetes and pre-diabetes are often causes, there may have been trauma from a sports injury or another disease that is the root issue. Having all of this information may help you and your healthcare provider decide whether or not surgery is the best choice for your individual condition.

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