Neuropathy (meaning peripheral neuropathy; sensory peripheral neuropathy type 1 and type 2; or peripheral neuritis) is a painful condition resulting from damaged peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves are those nerves that connect the brain to all the parts of the body via the spinal cord. Peripheral nerves are fragile and vulnerable to damage by many factors such as diabetes, infections like leprosy, alcoholism, autoimmune diseases and exposure to heavy metals or toxic solvents.
Mechanical pressure on a nerve, whether from injury, bone fracture, tumor, or any number of other problems, can also cause what is known as entrapment (or obstructive) neuropathy. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, is a common obstructive neuropathy.
One of the most common symptoms of neuropathy begins as a tingling in the toes and intensifies to a painful, burning sensation that spreads upward throughout the body. Weakness, numbness, and pain at the extremities are other possible symptoms of neuropathy.
Guillain-Barre (pronounced ghee-yan bar-ray) is a specific neuropathic condition brought about by damage to the myelin, the insulating layer covering the nerves, which results in abnormal sensations and weakening of the muscles that lead to the nerves. Occasionally, even the nerve axon itself (the actual nerve that is covered by the myelin) is damaged. This is a rare condition, yet it can develop at any age in a member of either sex. Its effects range from mild to severe, like paralysis. Several illnesses can trigger Guillain-Barre, but whatever the cause, the body's defense system reacts by attacking the myelin, thereby destroying it.