Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of nerve(s). The disease does not include the brain and spinal cord. It is a condition in which the nerves in the peripheral nervous system become damaged.

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Peripheral neuropathy can involve different nerve types, including sensory, motor and autonomic nerves. It can also be categorised by the size of the nerve fibres involved (large or small).

Learn more about peripheral neuropathy causes, symptoms and treatments below:

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy can occur from different conditions. These include:

  • Diabetes – A common cause, the high blood sugar (glucose) levels in people with diabetes can lead to nerve
  • Dietary deficiencies – Lack of B12 or folate vitamin deficiencies can cause nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy.
  • Chronic kidney disease – The imbalance of salts and chemicals in the bloodstream of people whose kidneys are not functioning normally can cause peripheral neuropathy.
  • Hereditary Diseases – Certain diseases that you can inherit from your family can cause peripheral neuropathy.
  • Cancer – Cancer can make you develop peripheral neuropathy.
  • Medicine – medicines such as chemotherapy medication and drugs used to treat HIV can cause damage to peripheral nerves.
  • Alcohol – High alcohol levels in the body can cause nerve Alcoholic neuropathy is a kind of peripheral neuropathy that affects people who drink large amounts of alcohol.
  • Physical Injuries – Injuries that include broken bones and nerve compression injuries can put pressure directly on the nerves.
  • Bacterial Infection – Infection, including HIV and Lyme disease.
  • Connective Tissue Disease – Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus can lead to peripheral neuropathy.

Some people develop peripheral neuropathy with no specific cause. This condition is known as idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

Peripheral neuropathy symptoms and the rate of development varies from person to person.

Symptoms of the three types of peripheral neuropathy:

Sensory Neuropathy – Damage to the nerves that affect the ability to feel. Symptoms include:

  • Tingling and numbness
  • Cannot feel pain
  • Cannot detect changes in temperature
  • Loss of coordination due to the loss of the ability to determine the position of your joints
  • Burnings and pains

Motor Neuropathy – The stimulation of your muscles by your nerves is affected.  Symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of muscle tissue due to lack of activity
  • Cramping and Twitching of the muscles
  • Muscle paralysis

Autonomic Neuropathy – Also known as autonomic neuropathy, it can cause symptoms including:

  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Sweat problems (lack of)
  • Cannot tolerate heat
  • Loss control of bladder
  • Bloating, constipation or diarrhoea.
  • Inability to get an erection (impotence).

A combination of sensory and motor neuropathy is also common, and it is also known as sensorimotor polyneuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy Treatments

The goal for peripheral neuropathy treatments is to manage the condition that causes the neuropathy and to relieve the symptoms. The procedures include:

1. Medication

Medication used to treat conditions that are associated with peripheral neuropathy and to reduce the signs and symptoms.

Remedies may include pain relievers, medicines containing opioids, anti-seizure drugs, topical treatments, lidocaine patches and antidepressants.

2. Therapy

Various therapy and procedures might help ease the signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, such as:

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – In this therapy, electrodes placed on the skin, delivering a gentle electric current at varying frequencies. TENS should be applied for 30 minutes daily for about a month.
  • Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin – This therapy helps suppress immune system activity. Plasma exchange involves removing your blood, then removing antibodies and other proteins from the blood and returning the blood to your body. In immune globulin therapy, you receive high levels of proteins that work as antibodies (immunoglobulins).
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy help improve movements.
  • Surgery – Surgery reduce pressure on the nerves.

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