POEMS syndrome, also known as Takatsuki syndrome, is a rare syndrome that is the result of an underlying disorder of the plasma component in the blood. The increased number of plasma cells in the blood of these individuals causes an overproduction of a type of protein that can damage other organs in the body. Although the exact cause of POEMS syndrome is not clear, studies suggest irregularly elevated levels of vascular endothelial growth factor has an influence on its development. POEMS syndrome is usually diagnosed by confirming particular immunologic abnormalities in the cerebrospinal fluid or the liquid element of the blood called serum. Elevated levels of the VEGF and M-proteins are usually present in laboratory examinations of the blood serum and cerebrospinal fluid. The acronym POEMS stands for five clinical characteristics that manifest in individuals with the syndrome. When left untreated, POEMS syndrome can be extremely debilitating to an individual's everyday life and lead to life-threatening complications.
The 'P' in the acronym POEMS stands for polyneuropathy, which refers to damage to multiple peripheral nerves around the body. Polyneuropathy affects various nerves in different regions of the body simultaneously. This condition can affect the nerves responsible for movements, feeling, or both. Autonomic nerves that control functions like blood pressure, bladder, heart rate, and digestion may also be affected. Individuals with POEMS syndrome often experience tingling, numbness, weakness, and pain in the affected regions of the body. In POEMS syndrome, polyneuropathy typically begins in the lower extremities such as the feet and the toes, and then it works its way upwards through the rest of the body. With the proper intervention and treatment, polyneuropathy can be stopped before it significantly influences the nerve function in the arms and hands. The most common complications that occur with this condition include a lack of coordination and balance that frequently results in falls and injuries. In addition, the numbness that results from polyneuropathy can cause an individual to sustain skin damage and burns from the inability to feel pain. Furthermore, the injuries the condition results in can cause infections to develop if burns and cuts go unnoticed.
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