Many patients suffer from polyneuropathy. Two to eight percent of all adults have signs or symptoms of polyneuropathy. The older you get the more likely you are of developing polyneuropathy. It is estimated that in the USA alone between 15 and 20 million people suffer from diabetic polyneuropathy. What is neuropathy and how is it treated?

The start of neuropathy

Neuropathy is a disease that affects the functioning of the long nerves leading to the legs, feet, arms and hands. Usually, this disorder begins in the feet. You may notice that sensation in the feet has decreased. It might feel as if you are walking on sand, on clouds or on barbed wire. It can also cause a wedged feeling, as if you are wearing a sock or glove that is too tight. A feeling that your surrounding cannot be sensed properly. Patients may also experience pain. Usually, this is a nasty, tingling, stinging or burning pain. The pain hardly responds to normal analgesics such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen.

When only a single nerve is affected it is called mononeuropathy (mono=one), when several nerves are affected we speak of polyneuropathy. Poly means many.

Pain from polyneuropathy

In addition to dysaesthesia (abnormal sensation), polyneuropathy can also cause pain. The pain can manifest as a burning or nasty pain, as if you were walking on barbed wire or on stinging nettle. That is the sensory perception of people who suffer from polyneuropathy. Consequently, polyneuropathy is an unpleasant disease that sometimes makes people desperate due to the nasty pain in the feet.

Signs and symptoms of polyneuropathy

Many signs and symptoms may develop, which may be related to sensory as well as muscle strength.

Sensory: numbness, irritation, changing sensations related to touching and heat, pain and even balance disorder.

Muscle strength: cramps, decrease of muscle strength, strange tickling movements in the muscles and thinning of muscles.

Clinical types of neuropathy: mononeuropathy and polyneuropathy

There are two groups: diffuse polyneuropathy and mononeuropathy.

Diffuse polyneuropathy is usually sensory related; feeling is disrupted and various nerves are simultaneously affected. Mononeuropathy is usually characterised by loss of muscle strength and affects only a single nerve or a few isolated nerves. In the latter case, we speak of mononeuritis multiplex.


Definition of polyneuropathy

Polyneuropathy is a disease that affects the tips of the nerves in the arms and legs. Symptoms of polyneuropathy are dysaesthesia and/or loss of strength, which are generally symmetrical and manifest more in the legs than in the arms. Usually, the symptoms begin in the toes and feet.

In other words, polyneuropathy is a disorder of the long nerves in the arms and legs, either left or right, in which dysaesthesia as well as loss of strength might occur, especially in the tips of the legs and occasionally, though less commonly, in the arms.

Causes of polyneuropathy

There are various causes for developing neuropathy; the most common causes are diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin B6 excess, excessive alcohol consumption, hereditary diseases or side-effect of chemotherapy.

When neuropathy is caused by a vitamin deficiency or chronic excess then treatment is easy and clear: either supplementing the vitamin shortage or stopping the excess.

It is not always that simple. In most cases of neuropathy, it is difficult to establish the cause and difficult to treat the disease. The most common cause of neuropathy, namely diabetes, is not easy to treat. One would think that optimal management of sugar levels would also improve conditions of neuropathy, but this is not the case. Obviously, proper management of sugar levels is important!

Polyneuropathy and PEA

Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is a natural remedy that reduces pain and contains infections, but it is also a substance that protects nerves and supports repairing mechanisms of the nerves. Therefore, PEA is a remedy that should be considered in every polyneuropathy treatment.

Because PEA is a 100% natural remedy, it is recommended—in order to get the most out of PEA—to use PEA for at least two months. If after one month, you have the feeling that PEA is not working optimally, you can double the dosage. The use of PEA over a period of two months is a realistic evaluation period. After these two months, you can determine the follow-up treatment. After all, some patients might respond more slowly because the effects of PEA occur through the natural mechanism of the body.

The two most common PEA products on the market are PeaPure, produced by JP Russel Science Ltd, which is a supplement that can be ordered worldwide and PEA tablets, produced by Epitech Group S.r.l., an Italian preparation available in pharmacies in Italy and Spain, among others places.

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