What is peripheral neuropathy?
The nervous system has two main parts: the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The brain and spinal cord are part of the CNS. The nerves that connect the CNS to the rest of the body are called the PNS. Any damage to these nerves, due to disease, injury, drugs, or toxins, is called peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can affect many nerves (polyneuropathy), a single nerve (mononeuropathy), or a nerve group.
What are the early signs of peripheral neuropathy?
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy depend upon the type of nerve affected—nerves of muscle function (motor nerves), nerves of sensation (sensory nerves), or nerves of the involuntary nervous system (autonomic nerves, such as those innervating the heart and bowels).
- Motor nerves regulate the movement of all muscles under your conscious control (muscles used for walking, holding objects, or speaking).
- Sensory nerves help you feel your environment (feeling of a light touch, heat, cold, or pain).
- Autonomic nerves control activities that you do not have conscious control of such as heartbeat, breathing, digesting food, and sweating.
Usually, neuropathies affect all three types of nerve fibers in varying degrees.
The 24 symptoms and signs of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Inability to feel touch and vibration sensations through your hands and feet. You feel like you are wearing some invisible “gloves” or “stockings.”
- Severe stabbing or shooting pain
- Tingling “pins and needles” sensation or electric shock-like pain
- Inability to feel pain
- Inability to tell whether an object is hot or cold
- Trouble grasping or picking up objects
- Frequent tripping or stumbling while walking
- Balance problems
- Increased sensitivity to cold or heat
- Burning sensation
- Extraordinary pain in response to touch or pressure
- Loss of muscle fat
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble passing urine
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Dizziness or fainting
- Excessive or no sweating
- Palpitations or a sense of the racing, pounding heartbeat
- Sexual disturbances
- Breathing problems
- Vision problems
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
The various causes of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy
- Genetic diseases
- Vitamin deficiencies (for example, vitamin B12 deficiency)
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Toxins (arsenic, lead, and mercury)
- HIV and certain other infections
- Autoimmune diseases (lupus)
- Certain cancers (lymphoma, multiple myeloma, etc.)
- Certain drugs (certain antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, etc.)
What is the best treatment for peripheral neuropathy?
Treatment of peripheral neuropathy begins with treating the underlying cause, including infections, drugs, vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, etc.
Treatment options include the following:
- Medications to provide pain relief:
- Hand or foot braces
- Orthopedic shoes
- People who report dizziness due to a sharp fall in blood pressure when getting up (orthostatic hypotension) can prevent this by standing up slowly and taking medications to prevent blood pressure fluctuations
- Physical therapy
- A healthy and balanced diet
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, refraining from smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol intake
- Surgery may be needed in some cases
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): In this technique, a low voltage electrical current is applied to the nerves causing pain by placing electrodes on the skin.
- Immune suppressing or modulating treatment
- Complementary treatment: acupuncture, lipoic acid, meditation/yoga, biofeedback, and herbal therapy.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14737-neuropathy https://www.foundationforpn.org/what-is-peripheral-neuropathy/treatments/
Top What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy Related Articles
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Symptoms, Causes, Life ExpectancyAmyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) is a neurological disease that progresses rapidly. The disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for the control of voluntary muscles. Early symptoms include cramping, twitching, or stiffness of the muscles; slurred nasal speech; difficulty swallowing or chewing, and muscle weakness in an arm or leg. Currently, the cause of ALS is not known. ALS is a fatal disease. No cure has been found for ALS, however, the drug riluzole (Rilutek) is FDA approved, and this drug reduces the damage to motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Cancer PainCancer pain results from the tumor pressing on nerves or invading bones or organs. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery can also cause pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, radiation, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques are just some treatments for cancer pain.
Chronic PainChronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments.
Crohn's DiseaseCrohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
Diabetes: Guide to Diabetic Peripheral NeuropathyDiabetes can damage the nerves that help you feel pain, heat, and cold, especially in your feet. Learn about the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy and the problems it can cause, what you can do about it, and how to prevent it.
Diabetes: Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy TreatmentThis nerve damage is a common complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Find out how to prevent it, slow its progression, and deal with symptoms.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Tips for Managing Type 1 and 2 Diabetes at HomeManaging your diabetes is a full time commitment. The goal of diabetic therapy is to control blood glucose levels and prevent the complications of diabetes. Information about exercise, diet, and medication will help you manage your diabetes better. Blood glucose reagent strips, blood glucose meters, urine glucose tests, tests for urinary ketones, continuous glucose sensors, and Hemoglobin A1C testing information will enable you to mange your diabetes at home successfully.
Diabetic Neuropathy QuizDiabetic neuropathy is serious. Take this quiz to get the facts.
Exercises for Diabetes Nerve PainLearn how to cope with the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy through pain management exercises. Find relief for diabetic nerve pain without medication.
Diabetes Foot ProblemsDiabetes related foot problems can affect your health with two problems: diabetic neuropathy, where diabetes affects the nerves, and peripheral vascular disease, where diabetes affects the flow of blood. Common foot problems for people with diabetes include athlete's foot, fungal infection of nails, calluses, corns, blisters, bunions, dry skin, foot ulcers, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts.
Neuropathic PainNeuropathic pain is a chronic condition that leads to ongoing pain symptoms. Patients can be predisposed to developing neuropathic pain who have conditions such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, HIV, vitamin deficiencies, shingles, and multiple sclerosis. Patient history and nerve testing are used to diagnose neuropathic pain. Antidepressants, antiseizure medications, and other types of medications are used to treat neuropathic pain. Many people with neuropathic pain are able to attain some level of relief.
Peripheral NeuropathyPeripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, shingles, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed with exams and tests. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. Usually, the prognosis for peripheral neuropathy is good if the cause can be successfully treated or prevented.