What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a term used to describe damage to nerves in the body (not including the brain and spinal cord) most commonly affecting the hands and feet. It may be classified by any of the following terms:
- mononeuropathy: affecting a single nerve or group of nerves,
- mononeuropathy multiplex: damage to at least 2 separate nerve areas,
- polyneuropathy: affecting many nerves at the same time throughout the body.
Common symptoms associated with this condition include:
- mild to severe pain
- constant tingling
- loss of sensation to pressure or hot and cold
- balance difficulties
- burning sensation/pain
- hyper-sensitivity to touch or hot/cold
- pain and or difficulty with walking/standing
- numbness and loss of feeling
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a variety of factors such as:
- diabetes (diabetic peripheral neuropathy)
- cancer chemotherapy (chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy or CIPN)
- alcohol abuse
- repetitive stress or nerve compression (eg. carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica)
- trauma (such as a pinched nerve in the back)
Sometimes the cause is unknown and receives the name idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.
Depending on the cause of the nerve damage, these symptoms may come on slowly over many years, or quite quickly. Symptoms may be mild at first but they often progress to chronic, unbearable pain. For example, with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the tingling/numbness may start in the tips of the toes and slowly move up the legs and past the knees. Eventually it may start affecting the hands and arms.
Discouragement and depression are common among people who suffer with peripheral neuropathy as it can significantly impact on an individual's quality and enjoyment of life and their ability to participate in activities that they would like to be able to do.
Currently there are no known cures for peripheral neuropathy, but we are offering significant hope and relief to patients with all types of peripheral neuropathy.