Often referred to as Peripheral Neuropathy, this collection of disorders occurs nerves of the peripheral nervous system (nerves outside of the central nervous system – brain & spinal cord) are damaged.  It is most commonly due to damage or nerve axons (“nerve endings”).  Pain and numbness in the hands and feet are the common manifestations of this condition and can be the result of an injury, an infection, a metabolic disorder or the exposure of a patient to some kind of a toxin.  Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy.

Tingling and burning in the extremities is the most often symptom.  Neuropathy can impact nerves that control muscle movement and sensory nerves that detect cold or pain.  Internal organs can be affected by autonomic neuropathy where the heart, blood vessels, bladder or intestines functions can be impaired.

The causes of neuropathy are in three categories:

  • 30% are of unknown origin
  • 30% are due to diabetes
  • 40% are called acquired neuropathies – which can come from trauma or repetitive motion, nutritional problems, alcoholism or eating disorders, autoimmune disease, tumors, poison or toxin exposure, or coming from other diseases or infections or acquired by heredity.

Treatment of any type of neuropathy depends on the cause of the particular neuropathy, e.g. diabetes control, vitamin deficiencies supplemented, treatment of autoimmune disease.

Physical therapy is often indicated as well as use of oral and topical analgesics.