What is bilateral neuropathy?

Bilateral neuropathy describes a series of nerve disorders that usually affect the hands and feet, but can also include other systems in the body. The term bilateral it means to affect both the left and the right side of the body. neuropathy is a general term for any disease or disorder of the nervous system. In the medical literature, bilateral neuropathy generally refers to a collection of symptoms that affect both the left and right arms and hands, as well as the left and right legs and feet. It is also commonly known as peripheral neuropathy to distinguish it from other types of neuropathy that affect the central nervous system.

Symptoms of bilateral neuropathy vary depending on the type of nerve affected and the severity of the disease. When the motor nerves are affected, muscle weakness can occur, as well as coordination problems. If the sensory nerves are affected, there will be loss of sensation, numbness and tingling. Pain is also a symptom with both types of nerves. Bilateral neuropathy in the legs can lead to an increased risk of falling due to muscle weakness or lack of coordination due to numbness.

The single most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes, accounting for approximately 30% of diagnosed cases in the United States. Other causes can include vitamin deficiencies, exposure to toxins, and systemic infections such as HIV. Excessive use of alcohol or drugs has also been found to cause neuropathy in some patients. Neuropathy can result from direct injury and can also be caused by hereditary conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. In approximately 30% of diagnosed neuropathies, the cause is unknown.

Early diagnosis of bilateral neuropathy is important to slow the progression of nerve damage and, in some cases, reverse existing damage before it becomes permanent. The neurologist usually makes the diagnosis after studying the patient's medical history, including underlying conditions that may contribute to the neuropathy. An office physical exam may reveal abnormalities in reflex reactions, muscle reactions, and grip strength. More detailed tests are sometimes required and may include an electromyogram (EMG) that studies muscle contractions, as well as nerve conduction tests.

Treatment for bilateral neuropathy will begin with the diagnosis and treatment of any underlying or contributing cause, such as diabetes. Physical therapy and occupational therapy may be necessary to relieve pain and improve mobility. Orthopedic devices such as splints can be used to relieve pain by stabilizing the injured area during healing. Medication is also commonly used to treat neuropathy; Pain medications and anticonvulsants may be used to relieve the symptoms of bilateral neuropathy.

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