6 Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

While the central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system extends throughout the body, relaying messages between the brain and other structures of the body, such as the skin and muscles. Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to these nerves. It occurs most often in the hands and feet, causing sensations of numbness, tingling, and pain. Neuropathy treatment Jacksonville FL can help relieve or manage the symptoms.

Peripheral neuropathy is a symptom rather than a disease in itself. Here are a few of the common causes.

1. Genetic Disorders

Rarely, the damage that causes peripheral neuropathy is due to a genetic abnormality. The abnormality is inherited from one’s parents and present at birth. An example of a genetic disorder that can cause peripheral neuropathy is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

2. Diabetes

Peripheral neuropathy affects more than half of all people with diabetes. This makes diabetes the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United States. Diabetic neuropathy typically causes burning sensations in the hands and feet. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

3. Pressure/Trauma

Sometimes an acute trauma can cause nerve damage that leads to neuropathy. Other times, the trauma occurs over time. This is the case with carpal tunnel syndrome, a common type of peripheral neuropathy that occurs due to repetitive use of the hands. Prolonged pressure on the nerve can also cause damage that leads to peripheral neuropathy. For example, leaning one’s elbow on tables or armrests for prolonged periods of time can damage the ulnar nerve.

4. Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders occur when something goes wrong with the immune system and it starts to attack healthy tissues of the body as though they were disease-causing agents. If the nervous system is damaged by an autoimmune disorder, peripheral neuropathy may develop. Examples of autoimmune disorders that can cause peripheral neuropathy include Guillain-Barre syndrome, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Cancer Treatments

Modalities used to treat cancer, such as radiation and chemotherapy, may cause damage to the nerves. Peripheral neuropathy from radiation treatments can take months to develop. Not all chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatments cause neuropathy, but it is a side effect of some.

6. Alcoholism

Excess alcohol consumption can be a double whammy to the nervous system. Not only may alcohol be toxic to the nerves directly, it can also result in vitamin deficiency from a lack of a well-balanced diet.

It is not always possible to identify the cause of peripheral neuropathy. If this is the case, doctors refer to it as idiopathic neuropathy.

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