Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, the central nervous system that transfers information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the nerves in the body. The damage caused to the peripheral nervous system as a result of neuropathy interferes with the complex connection of nerves and communications.
Each peripheral nerve serves a specialized function in every specific portion of the body, which can cause a wide variety of symptoms when the nerves are damaged.
Individuals affected by peripheral neuropathy may experience temporary numbness, tingling or prickling sensations known as paresthesia, and sensitivity to touch or muscle weakness. In some cases, severe symptoms of the condition may occur, such as burning pain that intensifies at night, muscle wasting, paralysis, and organ or gland dysfunction. Others affected by this type of neuropathy may have difficulty digesting food, maintaining safe levels of blood pressure, sweating, or experiencing normal sexual function. In more severe cases, breathing may become difficult.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that may be either acquired or inherited.
Acquired causes for the condition include physical injury or trauma to a nerve, pressure on the nerve from a tumor or vascular and metabolic disorders such as a swollen blood vessel, nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune responses, and alcoholism or toxins. Other underlying conditions like multiple sclerosis and diabetes can also cause this type of neuropathy, in fact, diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the U.S. In many cases though, causes for the development of this condition are unknown.
Peripheral neuropathy is a painful and undesirable condition but it is reversible. The symptoms for the condition can be alleviated by first treating any possible underlying condition that could have caused the neuropathy in the first place. Lifestyle changes and healthy habits can often be enough to promote nerve regeneration. Treatments for the condition include exercise routines recommended by a physical therapist or specialist and diet and nutritional strategies to treat deficiencies and improve wellness.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez