The human central nervous system, also known as the CNS, is at the heart of human ability. Along with the brain, this system of nerves and neurons allows our brain to communicate with our body, carrying out motor functions and interpret sensations.
Unfortunately for some people the nerves within the body become damaged. The effects that this can have depend on which nerves are damaged, but symptoms can include tremors, slurred speech, slowed movement and imbalance. Nerves can become damaged in a variety of ways and by a variety of conditions, some which are reversible and other which are, sadly, degenerative and fatal. MND, or Motor Neurone Disease as it is also known, is one of the conditions that causes progressive nerve damage. This can sometimes be slowed using physiotherapy and medication, but the condition causes the myelin sheathes that coat and protect the nerves to wear away. As a result nerves become over sensitive and in themselves damaged so that they do not work adequately. Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease are other conditions caused primarily by damage to the nerves, or the myelin sheaths that are designed to protect them.
In some cases nerve damage can be prevented if it’s caught early. This is particularly seen in patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition, caused by repetitive typing, wrist movements and the use of tools that vibrate at a certain frequency, causes the wrist to compress a nerve running through it called the ‘median nerve’. This primarily causes pain in the palm and wrist, sometime causing numbness, tingling and/or pain in the tips of the fingers too. If carpal tunnel syndrome is caught early and treated then the nerve can then be released. If not then lasting nerve damage may occur, leading to a loss of sensation and dexterity in the fingers, a loss of strength and pain in the wrist.
Injury and trauma can also have a part to play in nerve damage. For instance, someone in a bad car accident may suffer a deep laceration to their arm, severing one of the nerves. This would most likely cause a loss of sensation and movement in the extremities of the arm. While the nerve heals there may also be pain, but the key point here is that with nerve trauma the nerve can often heal quickly and easily, bringing the brain and the arm back into communication with each other. Injury to the nerves, however, is usually the result of a repetitive strain injury or a major change in the body’s physiology. For example, pregnant women often experience sciatica (pinched nerves) and if a woman is pregnant more than once in a short space of time, experiencing sciatica each time, then the compressed nerve may become damaged.
If you think you are suffering from nerve damage, or you are worried about nerve damage from a long term condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome or sciatica then you should visit your doctor as soon as possible. When treated early, many of these conditions can be treated so as to prevent or slow down nerve damage.