Focal Neuropathy: What Is It?
Neuropathy is a condition that impacts over 20 million people in the United States, and one form of the condition is focal neuropathy. This form of neuropathy is considered a form of mononeuropathy, meaning that a specific nerve is often the focus of the condition and all of the symptoms you experience.
What is Focal Neuropathy?
Focal neuropathies are when you've damaged a single nerve, often in a few key areas:
If you've been diagnosed with focal neuropathy, it's likely that you are diabetic, suffered from some form of trauma, or have compression that is impacting your nerves. Some people experience pain, but others may experience loss of function or strength.
Focal Neuropathy Causes
A physician is best suited to determine the root cause of your condition, but the most common reasons for the development of mononeuropathy are:
- Diabetes. If you have diabetes, your high fat and blood sugar content can slowly begin to damage your nerves. Over time, even the small blood vessels responsible for bringing nutrients to the nerves become damaged, leading to this form of neuropathy.
- Trauma. Any time you experience blunt force trauma, it can lead to nerve injuries. This trauma can be anything, such as a fall from a bicycle to a car accident, where the damage was concentrated in one area.
- Compression. Nerve compression can also occur, and this is a result of repetitive motion. For example, imagine a janitor sweeping and mopping the floor repetitively. Over time, many of these individuals experience carpal tunnel syndrome due to the compression of the nerves in their wrist.
Depending on the location of the damage, you may experience a wide range of focal neuropathy symptoms, from minor, insignificant issues to extreme weakness.
Focal Neuropathy Symptoms
If entrapment occurs, this means that the condition is caused by trapped or compressed areas in the nerve. The entrapment blocks signals, at least to some degree, and is one of the leading causes of carpal tunnel.
When entrapment occurs, you'll experience:
- Gradual symptoms
- Symptoms that increase in time
Symptoms for any form of focal neuropathy vary, and they can include:
If you have what is known as "cranial neuropathies," the condition impacts the nerves in your head. Since this is such a vital area of the body, the symptoms often cause vision problems. Key symptoms of cranial neuropathies include:
- Double vision
- Aches and pain behind one eye
- Bell's palsy (partial face paralysis on one side of the face)
- Eye focus issues
Your doctor will consider all of your symptoms before performing tests to find the underlying cause of your symptoms. Typical tests that analyze the nerves to uncover whether you have this condition are:
- Nerve conduction studies, where electrical signals are pushed through the body and analyzed to see if there's an issue with your nerve signals being interrupted.
- Electromyography or EMG testing, which analyzes how the muscles respond to the nerve signals being sent to them.
The remedy for focal neuropathy symptoms will depend on the severity of the condition. If the condition is diagnosed early on, it may be reversed using non-surgical procedures.
For example, carpal tunnel syndrome may require surgery to correct, but early on, splints may be enough to alleviate the pressure on the nerves and allow them to heal.
Natural Remedies for Focal Neuropathy
Focal neuropathy is a subset of neuropathy. While there aren't many studies on treating this form of neuropathy specifically, there are many studies on the general treatment of neuropathy.
A few of the natural remedies that can help alleviate symptoms and potentially help with the healing process are:
- CBD: Numerous studies have been done on the use of topical cannabidiol on people suffering from neuropathy. This study was conducted on the lower extremities with great results. Researchers found that oils reduced pain significantly as well as the itchy and cold sensation people were experiencing. Even more importantly, no adverse side effects were reported during the study.
- DMSO: A 1993 study found that DMSO was able to relieve pain by blocking C fiber conduction. The researchers state that the blocking of pain was almost immediate when concentrations of 15% or higher were used.
- Splints: One of the early treatments used by medical professionals to try and relieve focal neuropathy is the use of splints. When appropriately used, splints can remove pressure on the nerve in question to allow it to heal and ease any underlying symptoms.
- Cayenne Pepper: The use of cayenne pepper is common for pain relief due to its capsaicin content. Often used in creams, capsaicin helps decrease pain signals, allowing you to suffer less pain and discomfort.
- Roman Lavender Essential Oil: A potent essential oil, Roman lavender helps boost circulation in the body and has anti-inflammatory properties. Many people dilute this oil in one ounce of carrier oil and apply it to the area of the body experiencing symptoms. This treatment is especially helpful if you're experiencing tingling.
Many people also use meditation, exercise, and even acupuncture with varying results.
Focal neuropathy is a condition that can often be treated naturally. If the condition doesn't involve a trapped nerve, most people will recover without intervention in as little as a few weeks.
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