A Complete Guide to Autonomic Neuropathy

What is Autonomic Neuropathy?

The general term of neuropathy refers to nerve damage or dysfunction. Autonomic neuropathy, specifically, refers to damage in the nerves that control the body’s autonomic functions. When these nerves experience damage, it can prevent vital systems from working properly. In this blog, we will look into how autonomic neuropathy works, how it is developed, the associated symptoms, and available treatments. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with neuropathy of any form, you do not have to suffer in silence. Due to medical advancements, there are now effective ways to manage the pain of your neuropathy and return to the people and activities you love. 

BEST Health System offers patients access to premier spine, orthopaedic, and neuropathy care. Whether you are looking for physical therapy to enhance movement post-surgery or neuropathy treatment, we are here to help. We urge you to educate yourself on neuropathy so you can always stay one step ahead of your condition. Reading this blog is your first step towards being an educated, prepared patient. 

What Causes Autonomic Neuropathy?

The most common cause of autonomic neuropathy is diabetes. You may be wondering – how are these two conditions related, and why are diabetic patients more likely to develop neuropathy? The answer lies in the fact that higher blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels that supply our nerves. Therefore, individuals with diabetes who have high blood sugar for prolonged periods of time may suffer from permanent nerve damage. 

Although diabetes is the main cause of this condition, other causes have been linked to the development of diabetes as well. Cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy are more likely to develop neuropathy due to the strength of the procedure. Chemotherapy is a drug-based treatment that kills fast-growing cells in the body. While it is meant to target cancer cells, it sometimes damages nerves as well. If you or someone you know is considering or is currently undergoing chemotherapy, it is important to be knowledgeable of the associated side effects. 

Some autonomic diseases are also known to lead to the development of autonomic neuropathy, including:

  • Celiac disease
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjogren syndrome

If you have any of these conditions, you may experience nerve damage of some kind. However, it is important to continuously monitor your condition to ensure it is properly treated. 

What Symptoms You Might Experience

Autonomic neuropathy may affect different bodily functions. Below is a list of common neuropathy symptoms. If you or someone you know is dealing with any of these symptoms, it is important to notify your primary physician or specialist to ensure you are taking the appropriate treatment and pain management steps. 

  • Inability to control bladder
  • Increase in UTIs
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Trouble swallowing or eating
  • Spikes in blood pressure

Keep your healthcare professional updated if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. You will be able to find more pain management methods if treated sooner rather than later.

How Can BEST Help?

Neuropathy can be extremely debilitating and you often may feel hopeless. It is important to stay positive and seek treatment as soon as possible. At BEST Health System, we believe in a minimally invasive approach to surgery to ensure our patients can enjoy the shortest recovery period. Contact BEST today to learn more about our neuropathy treatments.