Top 10 Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Top 10 Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Our bodies are made up of a number of complex systems, including the peripheral nervous system, whose job is to communicate between the central nervous system (located in the brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body. When functioning properly, the peripheral nervous system carries a variety of sensory messages- for example, letting you know that your feet or hands are cold. This communication system controls everything from our heart to blood vessels to digestion, urination, and sexual function. When nerve signaling is malfunctioning, it can be known as peripheral neuropathy. Because of the number of nerves involved in this process, causes of the condition can vary and neuropathy treatment may be different among different patients. Keep reading to learn about the causes of peripheral neuropathy and what it may mean for you.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Rather than a single issue, peripheral neuropathy refers to a group of conditions that can damage the peripheral nervous system. There are a number of forms it can take, depending on what nerves are impacted and how severely. Some forms, known as mononeuropathy, impact only a single nerve, while polyneuropathy affects many or most of the nerves.

Symptoms can range from mild and uncomfortable to completely debilitating, and in rare cases may even be life-threatening. Without proper neuropathy treatment, a mild case can become much more critical.

Neuropathies can affect motor, sensory, and autonomic nerves- often all three are impacted to some degree, but some forms of neuropathy will affect only one or two.

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Most cases of the condition are acquired, meaning they are not genetic or inevitable. In some cases, an acquired case has no discernible cause, but in most cases, a cause is known. Some of the most common causes are detailed below.

  1. Physical Injury or Trauma: The most common cause of acquired neuropathy is a trauma of some sort, such as a car accident or sports-related injury that stretches, crushes, or compresses the nerve. In some cases, nerves can even become detached from the spinal cord. Prolonged but mild injuries can also cause damage over time when left untreated. For example, carpal tunnel is a form of neuropathy that occurs in response to repetitive typing over long periods.
  2. Diabetes: In the United States, diabetic neuropathy treatment is one of the most sought out treatment in terms of neuropathy. About 60-70% of people with diabetes have some form of damage to the nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the feet or lower body.
  3. Vascular and Blood Problems: When the oxygen supply to the nerves is decreased, nerve tissue can become damaged. Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, and vasculitis can all contribute to this problem. When blood flow is affected, the nerve damage can be patchy and appear in multiple, unconnected areas.
  4. Autoimmune Disease: A condition in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue can target nerves or the surrounding tissue. Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are common examples of this occurring.
  5. Hormonal Imbalances: If metabolic processes are disturbed, tissues may swell and compress peripheral nerves.
  6. Kidney and Liver Disorders: Abnormally high amounts of toxins in the blood can damage nerve tissue. Neuropathy is common in those on dialysis.
  7. Nutritional and Vitamin Imbalances: Deficiencies in certain vitamins or excess intake are known to cause neuropathy, as well as issues like alcoholism or overuse of certain medications.
  8. Chemotherapy Drugs: An estimated 30-40% of people on certain chemotherapy drugs will see signs of polyneuropathy develop, and it often continues after the treatment course is completed. Radiation therapy may have similar effects.
  9. Some Cancers and Benign Tumors: Tumors that infiltrate or compress a nerve fiber can cause neuropathy, regardless of the form of tumor.
  10. Infections: Many infections can attack nerve tissues and cause neuropathy to develop. West Nile, herpes, and HIV are some examples.

Genetic causes of neuropathy are very rare, though mutations can occur or be inherited. In these scenarios, symptoms may begin to appear in infancy or childhood.

Treating Peripheral Neuropathy

If you think you may be suffering from peripheral neuropathy, it is important to seek expert neuropathy treatment to prevent the condition from worsening. Doctors know how to test for neuropathy so you can begin treatment sooner, addressing the root cause and preventing further complications from the condition. Contact Fox Integrated Healthcare today.