To determine the presence of neuropathy such as alcoholic neuropathy or sensory neuropathy in different areas of the body, various tests have to be carried out. These tests which are mainly in form of physical examination usually include some blood tests and diagnosis. To ascertain if a person is, indeed, suffering from one form of nerve damage or the other, following are some routine procedures the physician carries out:
To diagnose the cause of the neuropathy, your physician will go over your medical history to get an in-depth knowledge of some factors like your lifestyle habits, your family history, any exposure to toxic substances, and dietary habits.
When blood tests are carried out in a case of suspected neuropathy and the peripheral nerves, it helps in the detection of defects such as a compromised immune function, diabetes, and vitamin deficiencies, all of which are causal factors of neuropathy.
Your medical doctor can check some factors that are linked to your neurological functions like muscle strength, tone, how well you feel, coordination, and tendon reflexes to get to know if there are in good working condition.
Imaging tests like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or CT scans may be carried out to see for irregularities like herniated discs or abnormalities like tumors.
To pinpoint the presence of a nerve damage or dysfunction in a particular nerve area, electrical activities in the muscles can be recorded via means like electromyography. In this procedure, electric signals are transmitted to a nerve and the nerve’s response to the sent signals are recorded by an electrode fixed along the pathway of the nerves. Other nerve function tests like autonomic reflex, sensory, and sweat tests have been proven to be effective neuropathic tests.
Your physician can test for the presence of neuropathy by taking out a small portion of a sensory nerve or skin to check for abnormalities.
Diabetic polyneuropathy is one of the major complications of diabetes which is worsened by elevated blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar levels cause damage to the nerves, especially those of the feet and the legs. Damage to the nerve of these organs results in a burning sensation, numbness, or distress.
Numbness is quite difficult to detect, especially for people who are nursing wounds in either or both feet, and this can be quite damaging. If an injured person is unable to feel a laceration on the skin or an accompanying pain, it might be overlooked and become inflamed by microorganisms.
This disorder can cause a deleterious effect in parts of the body other than the legs and feet. Diabetic neuropathy causes gastroparesis, a condition which causes destruction to the nerves in the gastrointestinal system, sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and inability of the bladder to eliminate waste. In some cases, it can damage the nerves involved in the regulation of blood flow leading to irregularities in heart rate or abnormal blood pressure.
In diagnosing specific nerve damage like diabetic neuropathy, your doctor will be mandated to run quite a few tests. Prior to when these tests will be conducted, you will be asked about the symptoms you are experiencing. All of these are geared towards getting a diagnosis that is accurate. It is crucial to know the nature of the diabetic neuropathy which is suspected.
Diabetic neuropathy might come in various forms like diabetic peripheral neuropathy, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, diabetic proximal neuropathy, and diabetic focal neuropathy. It is also very important to know the extent to which the nerve has been damaged.
When describing all the symptoms you have been experiencing, try your best to be very specific as this will help your physician pinpoint where exactly the problem might stem from.Following are some of the tests your doctor will perform to confirm if you are suffering from diabetic neuropathy:
Even in the absence of any form of neuropathy caused by diabetes, diabetics should have their feet examined every year. This examination is done to detect the presence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy which happens to be the most common form of diabetic nerve damage. Your doctor will assess the level of blood circulation around the feet, the muscles, the bones, and the skin to establish the health of your feet.
One of the most tried and tested ways of diagnosing diabetic neuropathy is by carrying out a neurological exam. Your doctor will check the health of different nerves in your legs and feet to know which particular nerve is damaged. This might involve testing the nerves which control temperature, touch, pressure, or vibrations.
Your doctor may decide to check if the nerve fibers involved in touch are functional.To do this, they may decide to use objects like nylon filaments to help decipher how much pressure your touch nerve fibers can feel. A lack of feeling from any form of pressure when nylon filaments are used is an indicator that you may be suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
In some cases, a tuning fork might be used on both feet by your doctor to detect your ability to sense vibrations from the fork. The inability to feel any form of vibration from the tuning form might signify diabetic neuropathy.
If you are experiencing difficulty in emptying your bladder, your physician may carry out an ultrasound to check the health of your bladder.
To assess whether nerves are damaged, your doctor may carry out a Nerve Conduction Velocity Test to determine how long it takes for your nerves to send signals. Dysfunctional nerves do not send signals as quickly are healthy nerves.
After it is confirmed that a person is neuropathic, it is advised to carry out some treatment routines to stop the progression of the disorder, to alleviate symptoms, and to the reverse damage. One such method is by taking dietary supplements that are rich in vitamins, especially B vitamins.
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