Re: How do you know if you have permanant nerve damage and how does it happen?
Nerve damage can be a "catch-all" phrase based on the types of symptoms someone may have. However, NCV (never conduction velocity) tests can be done that can actually show there is a deficit in the intensity and/or speed at which certain nerve signals travel. Any deficit in "standard" numbers would indicate some sort of damage, which then would be determined as the cause of the various pain and discomfort symptoms. Now, as to WHAT causes nerve damage, that can vary greatly. Diabetes is probably the leading cause of peripheral nerve damage, usually affecting the feet and toes first, then can progress up the legs and involve the hands and arms as well. Chemotherpapy drugs can damage nervous tissue, and again will usually be most noted in the peripheral nerves first / most. Certain viruses can attack the nervous system, peripheral artery disease can choke off adequate oxygen to the peripheral nerves, and damage to any number of nerve fibers and pathways can be caused by trauma, surgery, pressure from joint problems. Statin drugs for cholesterol can strip the myelin sheath from the nerve fiber (hey, it's removing fat from your bloodstream, it can remove the fat from cells in the myelin sheath too!) Neuropathy symptoms can occur from temporary shortages in blood flow or temporary pressure on nervous tissue, not neccessarily leading to permanent damage and lasting symptoms. Neuropathy is usually caused by something, not a disease in itself. Though when no cause can be found and there seems to be a history of it in a family tree, sometimes it is considered to be hereditary. I'm not sure why doctors believe this: not so long ago they didn't know some of the causes they know now; i'm sure previous generations' "unknown" causes were things we can test for today. In my support group there was a woman with severe diabetes and neuropathy. She said her neurologist said it was "idiopathic"... no known cause, and probably hereditary since her mother and aunts suffered from it, and she believed her grandmother too based on symptoms. All were some level of diabetic. Uh, gee, ya think there might be a link with diabetic neuropathy? Diabetes would be the possible hereditary link, not the neuropathy in itself. I stopped listening to my doctors when they said "oh, well, here's an increase in your pain medicaiton then, see me in a couple months if you need more".... there was "nothing" they could do. Hogwash. Never give up! and NEVER let them convince you there is nothing to be done. See my postings here for more on that. I am no longer on any pain or sleep medicines, I know longer have to see a podiatrist to keep check on my feet, I do not need my walker any more and I can drive again.... and I don't have to use the handicap mirror hanger when I go to Wal-Mart! I can park wherever I want to and make it into the store fine!... Slow, i'm in my 80's, but I make it fine! Nothing can be done. HAH! The only follow up appointment that I'm keeping is the LAST one to my neurologist.
I hope YOU don't have any neuropathy and were just on this site to look around. If you DO have neuropathy of some sort, there is A LOT to sort through here and all the doctors and "specialists" blah-blah-blah. But be patient, don't take "no" for an answer. Push, Push PUSH for more than a pill or the 5-minute consult that gives nothing more than the offer of a pill and no sympathy. Patrick