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Nerve Damage Symptoms

Nerve Damage Symptoms

Nerve damage symptoms depend upon the type of nerves in the body that have been affected. This article discusses these types, and their important symptoms.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
Nerves or neurons are a part of the nervous system of the body. They coordinate movements, and transmit signals to different parts of the body. All vital functions which are performed by the body, right from breathing to the coordination of muscles, and sensing heat and cold involve the nervous system. Nerves are of three types, viz., autonomic nerves, motor nerves and sensory nerves.
Heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and temperature regulation are among the involuntary or partially voluntary activities of the body. These activities are controlled by the autonomic nerves. The movements and actions of the body are in control of the motor nerves. These nerves function by transmitting information from the brain and spinal cords to the muscles. Sensory nerves are those which are responsible for producing sensation of pain and other feelings. This is done by passing information from the skin and muscles back to the spinal cord and the brain.
What Symptoms are Indicative of Nerve Damage?
Autonomic Nerve Damage
The autonomous nervous system deals with functions including heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration and digestion. Any damage to this nervous system disrupts the normal transmission of signals between the brain and parts such as the heart, blood vessels, and sweat glands. The damage could be caused by a large number of medical conditions, common being disorders of the immune system, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson's to name a few. It could also result from the administration of certain medications. Symptoms can be several, and vary according to the portion of the autonomic nervous system that is affected. The patient may show symptoms which include:
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness and fainting upon standing; triggered by drop in blood pressure upon standing
  • Problems with urination
  • Difficulty digesting foods
  • Anhidrosis (failure of the sweat glands); can cause decreased or no perspiration at all
  • Profuse perspiration
  • Constipation

Other symptoms could include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, lightheadedness, slow reaction time of the pupil, and dry eyes and mouth.
Motor Nerve Damage
As mentioned earlier, motor nerves stay in control of information that is being passed from the brain to relax and contract muscles, so that they can perform certain specified functions in the body. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, environmental, toxic, viral, or genetic factors could be the possible offenders in this case. Damage of the motor nerves may manifest through symptoms such as:
  • Weakness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Twitching
  • Paralysis
Sensory Nerve Damage
Sensory nerves are made up of nerve fibers, called sensory fibers. They tell you about how something feels when you touch it like if it is painful, smooth, rough, hot, cold, etc. As sensory nerves are responsible for sensations produced in the body, any damage incurred by them is most likely to produce symptoms such as:
  • Burning sensation
  • Tingling sensation
  • Prickling sensation
  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Issues with positional awareness

There could be several factors that can damage the sensory nerves thus, it is usually difficult to zero in at a specific cause. Alcoholism, trauma, deficiency of certain vitamins, diabetes, autoimmune problems, and poisoning are some commonly responsible factors.
Nerve Damage Repair
In most cases, it is unlikely to achieve a complete cure for nerve damage. However, various treatment methods are available that can help patients manage the symptoms, and lead a normal life. Generally, the treatment is to take care of the underlying condition responsible for the damage. People with diabetes may be treated to regulate their blood sugar levels. If certain drugs are the cause of nerve damage, then medications may be altered. Any nutritional deficiency would have to be addressed, if it is also one of the causes. If the nerves have suffered any kind of trauma, then doctors may opt for surgery or physical therapy. If an autoimmune disease has caused the nerve damage, then medications would be prescribed to manage the symptoms.
Apart from the above procedures to relieve the symptoms of nerve damage, patients may also be recommended to administer medications which would help in alleviating the pain, arising from the damage. Other techniques such as acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, hypnosis, etc., may also be considered in order to deal with the painful and uncomfortable symptoms.