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Nerve Inflammation: Different Types

Neuritis or neuropathies can be referred to as an umbrella term for variety of degenerative conditions, pertaining to the structural or functional damage to Nerves. It commonly indicates inflammation of the nerve. It may be due to numerous causes including mechanical trauma, chemical injury, nutritional deficiencies, infections, inherited disorders, systemic diseases and autoimmune pathology. The condition has often proven to have noticeable impact on sensory and motor abilities of a person, like tingling, numbness, weakness in locomotary organs, paralysis, etc. Although various types of neuritis have been identified, optic neuritis and peripheral neuritis have observed to be the most commonly apparent.

The current write up has been intended to provide brief information of different types of neuritis and the possible pathogenesis.

Mononeuritis Multiplex

Mononeuritis Multiplex is generally associated with painful, asymmetric motor as well as sensory peripheral nerve atrophy which is asynchronous involving isolated damage to at least 2 separate nerve areas. Since multiples nerve sites are being affected in this particular degeneration; a person suffering with this generally experience, weakness, numbness and pain in different parts of the body.

Cranial Neuritis

Cranial neuritis which often represents as Bell’s palsy and generally linked up with autoimmune disorders like diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, etc.

Although exact cause has not been pinpointed, possible causes that have been marked so far can be tumour, meningitis, stroke, diabetes mellitus, mucormycosis, etc.

Vestibular Neuritis

Vestibular neuritis is the neural damage associated with the inflammation due to infection in the inner side of the ear; connecting the nerves to the brain. The abnormality is diagnosed as the primary cause of dizziness and/or vertigo as a result of viral infection and less commonly bacterial, creating imbalance between the two sides of an affected ear. Other symptoms include loss of balance, and hearing.

Occipital Neuritis

Occipital neuritis or occipital neuralgia is a common condition affecting nerve running from the top of the spinal cord through the scalp. In this, occipital nerves are evidently observed to be inflamed or possibly injured as a result of accident, trauma, muscle stiffness and/or autoimmunity. Some of the medical conditions can as well be linked to the disorders such as osteoarthritis, gout, diabetes, etc. It typically causes at the base of the skull or back of the head.

Other than these important forms, mentioned above some of the less common forms, associated with neural degeneration can be noted as:

  • Lumbosacral Neuritis
  • Sensory Motor polyneuropathy
  • Ulnar Neuritis
  • Intercostal Neuritis

In the conventional medical practices, neuritis are being commonly delayed or halted in their progression, through administration of steroidal drugs. However, long term intake of steroids is associated with many side effects. On the contrary, some of the alternative therapies can have effective impact on regeneration and restoration of the affected nerves. Stem cells are such potential candidates which have been successfully isolated and infused back by medical experts to treat variety of neurodegenerative disorders, after identification of their inherent potential to have a marked anti-inflammatory response and to differentiate into various cells of different lineages.

The research is ongoing to explore different capabilities of stem cells and their possible applications in treating variety of degenerative illnesses, but with the current available data and treatment matrix; administration of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) to treat neural damage has proven to be the best possible option.

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Optic Nerve Atrophy: The Symptoms

Optic Nerve Atrophy: The Symptoms

Optic Nerve Atrophy, also known as optic neuropathy, is a common form of neurodegenerative disorder. Optic nerves are the important connecting link between eye and the brain; which is associated with overall visual performance.

The human eye, is nothing but an orbit of the bony cavity, that contains muscles, nerves, blood vessels as well as some important structures that produce and drain tears and the eye ball,. All the cellular structures are networked with each other with the help of nerves; which have come together towards the small circular area of the retina, known as the optic disc. The most sensitive part of the retina is known to be “Macula”; which is made up of millions of light sensitive cells termed as “Rods” and “Cones”. Cones are mainly responsible for detailed, acute, central vision as well as colour perception; whereas rods are responsible for peripheral and night vision.

Information, regarding the object is passed on to the brain, in the form of nerve signals from each eye, through optic nerve and other nerve fibers; where the vision is anticipated and interpreted. When there is steady degeneration of optic nerve as an end result of some of the diseased conditions; it can give rise to Optic Nerve Atrophy.

Symptoms of the Atrophy

Symptoms associated with optic atrophy are variable, on the basis of its general classification; based on some of the parameters such as morphology and pathogenesis. However, some of the common symptoms, associated with change in visual performances of an individual are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty in discrimination between colorful objects
  • Reduced visual acuity and side vision
  • Decreased brightness in one eye relative to the other

Further to these commonly expressed symptoms; some of the other symptoms, associated with specific conditions, can be explained on the basis of further classification of the atrophy.

With the help of ophthalmoscopic observation; optic atrophy can be classified as Primary Atrophy, Secondary Atrophy and Glaucomatous Atrophy of the optic nerve.

Primary Atrophy of the Optic Nerve: –

Primary Atrophy can be further subcategorized as:

  • Ascending Atrophy; which is associated with ischemic occlusion of the central part of the retina. Some of the symptoms associated with the condition, can be listed out as; transient visual loss, temporal pain, pain in the jaw or ears, fatigue, sudden weight loss and unexplained muscular pain.
  • Descending Atrophy; is associated with optic nerve compression due to hydrocephalous, traumatic fracture, hematoma formation, in surrounding area like optic sheath and/or inflammatory compression due to arachnoiditis or syphilis. The clinical hallmarks of compressive descending optic neuropathy include slow, progressive visual loss, inability to differentiate colored vision, afferent papillary defect, visual field defect as well as edema or inflammation. There can as well be a detection of compressive lesion on the eye surface.
  • Toxic Atrophy takes place due to long term abuse of optic nerve, because of low grade tobacco, alcohol consumption and/or long term exposure to harmful chemicals, etc. The vision loss associated with toxic atrophy is bilateral, symmetric and/or progressive degeneration of optic nerve. The symptoms associated with the clinical condition can often be described as reduced brightness of a particular color, generally red; or in general loss of color perception. Some people can as well notice, progressive decline of visual acuity. Upon physical observation, some pupils usually reflect normal response to light as well as visual stimulus. There can as well be rare observation of optic disc hemorrhages, leading to the continuous damage of optic nerve.
  • Congenital or Hereditary Atrophy; is often a result of infantile hereditary defect. The affected eye can display swollen appearance of the nerve fibers; upon fundus examination papillary defect may be visible.

Secondary Atrophy of the Optic Nerve: –

It is often associated with some primary disease conditions such as papilledema, papillitis, , etc. The main symptoms associated with clinical conditions are progressive visual damage, difficulty in colored objects discrimination, reduced peripheral vision, etc.

Glaucomatous Atrophy of the Optic Nerve: –

It is the most commonly occurring optic nerve atrophy, encountered in clinical practice; characteristically associated with increase in intraocular pressure causing gradual loss of vision. Glaucomatous optic nerve damage without elevation of intraocular pressure is sometimes referred to as “low tension glaucoma” or “normal pressure glaucoma.”.