Cranial Neuropathy Treatment: What Are Its Causes And Symptoms?

Nerves are a part of the nervous system and play a vital role in transmitting information to and fro from the brain to other parts of the body. The entire human body comprises of a wide network of nerves which help us perform a wide range of functions including sensory and motor functions.

The central nervous system is typically classified into cranial nerves and spinal nerves (also referred to as peripheral nerves). Cranial nerves are the nerves that are directly connected to the brain or the brain-stem, unlike the spinal nerves, which enter the brain via the spinal cord. In all there are 12 cranial nerves that perform different functions.

Neuropathy is a disorder which is characterized by nerve damage which in turn hampers the sensory and motor functions of the organs served by the affected nerve. Cranial nerves usually serve the area around the face and eyes and hence cranial neuropathy is often associated with dysfunctions around the face and eyes.

Causes Of Cranial Neuropathy

There are a host of causative factors that are linked with cranial neuropathies. Neuropathies can be mononeuropathy when only one nerve is damaged and polyneuropathy when multiple nerves are involved. Some of the common causes for neuropathies include the following,

  • Nerve damage due to trauma and injury during birth can lead to irritation of the nerve resulting in neuropathy. Cranial neuropathies are most commonly attributed to this cause.
  • Diabetes is another leading cause for neuropathy which occurs primarily due to elevated levels of blood sugar and frequent spikes in blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is considered to be another important cause for the development of neuropathies.
  • Viral or bacterial infections can also lead to neuropathies. Bell’s palsy is a typical example of neuropathy due to viral infection.
  • Brain tumor or an aneurysm in the brain can also lead to neuropathy. Third nerve neuropathy is often associated with this cause.

Cranial Neuropathy Symptoms

In general the symptoms associated with neuropathies include pain, tingling and numbness, increase sensitivity to touch, burning sensation and weakness or paralysis of the concerned muscles. In addition to these symptoms cranial neuropathies may have additional symptoms, depending upon the nerve involved. Here are some symptoms associated with some important cranial nerves,

  • Bell’s palsy is a condition which affects the facial cranial nerve which is characterized by drooping of one side of the face.
  • Third nerve palsy is a condition characterized by drooping of eyelids, diplopia or double vision, difficulty in moving the eye and failure of the pupil to contract in response to light.
  • Sixth nerve palsy is a condition which is associated with damage to the sixth cranial nerve resulting in abnormal movement of the eye and diplopia.
  • Forth nerve palsy is associated with paralysis of the superior oblique muscle which results in abnormal movement of the eye.

Treatment For Cranial Neuropathy

A series of test including CT scan, MRI scan, nerve conduction velocity tests and angiography are performed in order to ascertain the affected nerve and level of nerve damage. The treatment regimen usually focuses on alleviating the symptoms and preventing further damage.

The focus of the treatment is to treat underlying condition like infection, diabetes or blood pressure which may attribute to the onset of the condition. Having a healthy and nutritious diet comprising of fresh fruits and vegetables plays a vital role. Limit the intake of alcohol and stop smoking. Including vitamin B12 supplements may be beneficial in the management of cranial neuropathies.

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