Autonomic Neuropathy

Damage to nerves that control autonomic bodily functions such as blood sugar, blood pressure, digestion, heart rate, or bowel movements.

Overview

Autonomic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs when patients do not have normal function on automated nerve system responses in the body. In the absence of these sensory nerves, breathing, blood sugar control, digestive function, and many other essential functions struggle to work. Autonomic neuropathy interrupts the natural processes and prevents the body from properly controlling muscles. At BEST Health System we want to inform and educate our patients to take the best course of action. To learn more about autonomic neuropathy as well as causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and surgical options, continue reading this guide.

Causes of Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy can occur due to disease and conditions that have previously impacted the body and lead to autonomic nerve damage. Primary causes of autonomic neuropathy can be: 

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cancer and/ or chemotherapy
  • Chronic illness
  • Degenerative disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Inherited disorders
  • Medications 
  • Nerve trauma

Treatment Options

Plenty of conservative treatments for autonomic neuropathy can provide you with the pain relief you need to get back to your daily activities. There isn’t a one-stop solution to diabetic neuropathy nor is there one treatment to cure it. Keeping this in mind the main goal of treatment is to ease pain and discomfort while also preventing more tissue damage. Treatment may include:

 

  • Acupuncture
  • Antidepressants that act on the nervous system to ease pain and discomfort
  • Biofeedback
  • Creams you put on your skin
  • Pain medicines
  • Pain Pump Implant
  • Relaxation training
  • Spinal Cord Stimulator
  • Transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy

Surgical options

Occasionally, conservative treatments for autonomic neuropathy are ineffective or do not provide enough relief. If this is the case you may want to consider surgery. BEST Health System takes pride in its minimally invasive procedures. Our board-certified surgeons employ a less than one-inch incision to access the target area. 


BEST Health System offers patients struggling with diabetic neuropathy symptoms spinal cord stimulators. If you have any questions feel free to contact BEST Health System today to schedule an appointment.

Symptoms

Symptoms of autonomic neuropathy vary from individual patient to patient and cause an array of symptoms:

  • Bladder issues: from frequently occurring urinary tract infections, incontinence or difficulty emptying the bladder.

     

  • Digestive system: symptoms may include vomiting due to undigested food, indigestion, heartburn, swollen abdomen, constipation, feeling full with smaller quantities of food, poor appetite.

     

  • Eyes: Slow pupil dilation or adjustment from dark to light.

     

  • Reproductive functions: from erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation in men to vaginal dryness or difficulty achieving orgasm for women.

     

  • Heart: some patients are impacted through their heart or blood vessels resulting in difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, heart attack without normal signals, fainting, or dizziness when rising.

FAQs

I have very little bladder control. Does this mean I have autonomic neuropathy?

Although the loss of bladder control may be a symptom of autonomic neuropathy, is impossible to know for certain without a complete diagnosis. If you are experiencing persistent symptoms of any kind it is imperative to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Can I wait and see if my symptoms get better on their own?

Autonomic neuropathy impacts parts of the body that function without conscious control, so it is especially important to monitor any functions that are not working properly. As with any condition, you should never hold off on getting treatment. Untreated autonomic neuropathy can also result in irreversible body damage. Get the help you need as soon as possible. 

Will autonomic neuropathy be covered by my insurance provider?

We accept most insurances, but if you’re curious if we take your particular plan, please give us a call to learn more.