Neuropathy; causes, treatment and prevention

Nerve damage caused by diabetes is one of the most common forms of neuropathy. This leads to numbness, pain, and a loss of sensation in the extremities. / Net photo

Neuropathy (nerve pain, peripheral neuropathy) is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves that typically results in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, burning sensation, increased sensitivity to touch, and sharp jabbing pain.

According to Gerald Ruzindana, a body wellness expert at Amazon Nutrition Cabinet in Kigali, if neuropathy is left untreated, symptoms may worsen to loss of balance and co-ordination.


He notes that neuropathy affects people of all ages, however, older people are at a higher risk, and that eight per cent of adults are over 65 years of age.


It is estimated that about 25 to 30 per cent of Americans are affected by this condition. In Rwanda, there are no estimated numbers of people affected, but going by general theory, Ruzindana says the affected people are increasing.


He explains that neuropathy is a disorder under a group of diseases that cause nerve problems. It is categorised into other types depending on the causative factor. 

These include, peripheral neuropathy; the medic says this is the most common involving damage of the peripheral nervous system affecting massive communication networks that manage information between the brain and the spinal cord and other parts of the body. It affects toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, and arms.

The second is proximal neuropathy, which is characterised by affecting one part of the body but can radiate to another, it includes nerve damages in the thigh and hip areas.

Another form is cranial neuropathy, which Ruzindana says is automatic and focal neuropathy.

“All these are among the major forms of neuropathy that cause pain in the nerves and restrict movement and body function,” he says.

He also points out automatic neuropathy which involves nerve damage of involuntary nervous function that coordinates activities of the heart, digestive system, bladder, and sexual functions.

Causes of neuropathy

Ruzindana says neuropathy comes as a result of damage of more than one nerve of the central nervous system, which is a network that coordinates activities in the body.

“Among the common risk factors we find are structural abnormalities,” he says.

Here, he says, the spinal vertebrae or bones, alter normal pathway of certain nerves, and this could happen as a result of the body imbalances in bones, excessive burden, or injuries.

Another usual cause of neuropathy is diabetes. 

“Many have diabetic neuropathy, a condition that results from nerve tissue damage due to diabetes,” he notes.

Autoimmune diseases, exposure to excessive toxins and metals, nutritional deficiency are other causes of neuropathy in general.

“Many people are fond of self-medication, yet overconsumption of chemical products damages the nerves,” Ruzindana says.

Staying safe

Ruzindana says working towards understanding the need for healthy maintenance is a good way to stay safe.

He notes that avoiding risk factors like diabetes, and exercising from an informed position reduces risks of compression and sports injuries that many people experience.

“Some are treated while many others go ignored, which in the long run affects the general function of our nervous system to a level of crashing,” he says.

Ruzindana says that he advocates for lifestyle adjustments for diet and nutrition.

 “Understanding the body’s nutritional needs at a certain time and age would help solve certain deficiencies like B-complex and imbalances,” he advises.

 “We suggest routine cheek ups for blood sugar for all people to monitor and identify possible diabetes cases and diagnosis at an earlier stage, for quick management and restoration,” he says.

For any symptom mentioned above, Ruzindana urges people to seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid advanced effects or eventual death.

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