What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

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What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that results when the peripheral nerves, the extensive communication network that sends signals between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body, are damaged.

This damage disrupts the normal functioning of these nerves, leading to various symptoms that can affect the body’s muscular and sensory functions.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

The causes of peripheral neuropathy are varied and can include genetic factors, metabolic and systemic issues, infections, and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes, which can lead to diabetic neuropathy as high blood sugar levels damage the nerve fibers. Other causes might be physical injury, infections like shingles, or autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can range from mild to severe and can vary depending on the type of nerves affected. Common symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, which might spread upwards into the limbs.
  • Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, or burning pain.
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch.
  • Lack of coordination and falling.
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected.

If autonomic nerves are involved, symptoms could also include heat intolerance, changes in blood pressure, or digestive difficulties.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy

Diagnosing peripheral neuropathy involves a physical exam and a review of symptoms and medical history. Tests might include blood tests, nerve function tests (like EMG), and imaging tests to identify the underlying cause of nerve damage.

Treatment for peripheral neuropathy focuses on managing the condition causing the neuropathy and relieving symptoms. If diabetes is the cause, controlling blood sugar levels is crucial.

Medications might be prescribed for pain relief, and in some cases, physical therapy might aid in managing muscle weakness and pain.

Alternative therapies like acupuncture and massage can also be part of the treatment plan to help relieve symptoms.


Living with peripheral neuropathy can require adjustments to manage symptoms and prevent further nerve damage. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial; this includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding factors like excessive alcohol that can worsen the condition.

Regular check-ups are important to monitor the condition and manage any complications effectively.

Dr. Navin Tiwari
Consulting Neurologist

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