What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the illnesses that result when nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and the body are damaged.

The peripheral nerves constitute an intricate system that links the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, skin, and internal organs. Peripheral nerves come from the spinal cord and so are arranged along lines within the body.

Usually damage to your nerve will impact one or more dermatomes, which may be tracked to specific areas of the body. Damage to these nerves interrupts communication between the brain and other areas of the body and can impair muscle movement, prevent ordinary sensation in the legs and arms, and ultimately cause pain.

Forms of Peripheral Neuropathy

There are many different types of peripheral neuropathies that come from many different causes. As a group, peripheral neuropathies are typical, particularly among individuals around the age of 55. This affliction affects 3% to 4% of men and women in this group. Neuropathies are commonly classified according to the issues they cause. There also are related terms that express how extensively the nerves have already been damaged.


Damage to a single peripheral nerve is known as mononeuropathy. Physical injury or trauma such as a collision is the most typical cause. Prolonged pressure on a nerve, brought on by prolonged periods of being sedentary (such as sitting in a wheelchair or lying in bed), or even constant repetitive motions can activate a mononeuropathy.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a familiar type of mononeuropathy. It aptly is called an overuse strain injury, which happens when the nerve that goes through the wrist is compressed. Individuals whose work demands repeated motions with the wrist (such as for instance assembly line workers, physical laborers, and the ones who use computer keyboards for lengthy intervals) are at greater danger.

The damage to the nerve can result in odd sensations, tingling, numbness, and pain in the first three fingers. The person discovers that when they perform tasks like making use of a hair dryer, the numbness is noticeable or may awaken at night with numbness inside their hand. In time, the muscles can weaken in the hand.

Ulnar nerve palsy occurs when the nerve that passes near the top layer of the skin at the elbow is damaged; the numbness is noted in the 4th and 5th digit of the hand. Radial nerve palsy is due to injury to the nerve that runs across the bottom of the upper arm and may happen with fractures of the humerus bone in the upper part of the arm.

When the nerve on top of the calf on the knot in the knee is compressed, peroneal nerve palsy results. In some instances, mononeuropathy can affect internal organs like the heart, arteries, bladder, or intestines. This uncommon condition can cause problems or low blood pressure with sweating.


Polyneuropathy accounts for the biggest variety of peripheral neuropathy cases. This happens when multiple peripheral nerves throughout the body malfunction at the same time. Polyneuropathy can get a wide variety of causes, including exposure to certain toxins such as with alcohol abuse, poor nutrition (particularly vitamin B deficiency), and complications from diseases like cancer or kidney failure.

One of the frequent types of chronic polyneuropathy is diabetic neuropathy, a condition that occurs in people with diabetes. It is more serious in people with poorly controlled blood sugar levels. Diabetes may also cause a mononeuropathy, though less common.

The most common apparent symptoms of polyneuropathy are tingling, numbness, loss in sensation in the arms and legs, or a burning sensation in the feet or hands. Because individuals with chronic polyneuropathy frequently lose their capability to feel temperature and pain, they develop open sores as the results of injury or prolonged pressure and can easily burn themselves.

If the nerves serving organs are involved, diarrhea or constipation may result, along with loss of bladder or bowel control. Abnormally low blood pressure and sexual dysfunction may also occur.

Some of the very serious polyneuropathies is Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare ailment that hits abruptly when nerves are attacked by the body’s immune system just as signals leave the spinal cord. Symptoms have a tendency to appear quickly and worsen rapidly, sometimes ultimately causing paralysis.

Early symptoms include tingling and weakness that may propagate up to the arms. Breathing difficulty, heart rhythm problems, and blood pressure problems may occur in the more acute cases.

However, despite the severity of the illness, healing rates are excellent when patients get treatment early. Early identification and treatment is crucial as up to 30% of those affected risk being confined to a wheelchair.

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