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What is a neuritis?

Neuritis is a common malfunction of the nervous system, causing pain due to an an inflammation of the peripheral nerves (those outside of the central nervous system). The inflammation prevents the correct transmission of nerve impulses, and thus blocks sensory and motor functions. There are several possible causes of neuritis :

  • Injury, pressure, or overloading of a part of the body, such as from a worn vertebral disc (causing 'sciatica') or a broken bone.

  • Infection, from for example diphtheria, polio, tetanus, leprosy, or the herpes virus (causing 'shingles').

  • Peripheral vascular disease, for example gout.

  • Poisoning, from drugs or alcohol, or even from chemicals or heavy metals (e.g. organo-phosphates, arsenic, mercury or lead).

  • Metabolic, from nutritional problems such as vitamin deficiencies, or diseases such as diabetes.

The first of these is sometimes referred to as 'entrapment syndromes', because nerves can easily be compressed, when passing through confined spaces, by the surrounding bones, ligaments or fibrous tissues.

Reference: Clinically Oriented Anatomy, Moore

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