Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition that affects the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, known as the peripheral nerves. It occurs when these nerves become damaged, leading to various symptoms. Peripheral neuropathy can affect one nerve (mononeuropathy), multiple nerves in different areas (multiple mononeuropathy), or numerous nerves throughout the body (polyneuropathy).

What are the types of peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy encompasses various types based on the specific nerves affected and the underlying causes. Here are some common types of peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy
  1. Diabetic Neuropathy: This type of neuropathy is associated with diabetes and is the most prevalent form. It primarily affects the nerves in the legs and feet, causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain, and loss of sensation.

  2. Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS): GBS is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the peripheral nerves. It often starts with weakness and tingling in the legs and can progress to muscle weakness or paralysis. GBS can be a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

  3. Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease: Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is a hereditary neuropathy that affects the peripheral nerves, leading to muscle weakness, foot deformities, and difficulties with motor skills. Symptoms usually begin in adolescence or early adulthood.

  4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: While not strictly a peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome involves compression of the median nerve in the wrist, causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand. It is a common form of entrapment neuropathy.

  5. Alcoholic Neuropathy: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy. It often affects the longest nerves in the body, causing symptoms such as numbness, pain, and muscle weakness, typically in the legs and feet.

  6. HIV/AIDS-Related Neuropathy: People living with HIV/AIDS may develop peripheral neuropathy as a complication of the infection or as a side effect of certain antiretroviral medications. It can result in sensory changes, pain, and muscle weakness.

  7. Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy: Some chemotherapeutic drugs can damage the peripheral nerves, leading to neuropathy. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, pain, and temperature sensitivity.

  8. Idiopathic Neuropathy: In some cases, peripheral neuropathy may have no identifiable cause and is referred to as idiopathic neuropathy. It is diagnosed when other potential causes have been ruled out.

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples of the many types of peripheral neuropathy. Each type can have unique features, symptoms, and treatment approaches. A healthcare professional can provide a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis based on an individual’s specific symptoms and medical history.

Peripheral neuropathy: Symptoms

Peripheral neuropathy can manifest with a range of symptoms that can vary depending on the nerves affected and the underlying cause. Common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  1. Tingling and Numbness: Many people with peripheral neuropathy experience tingling, pins and needles, or numbness in the affected areas. This sensation may be localized to specific areas or spread along the limbs.

  2. Pain: Peripheral neuropathy can cause different types of pain, including sharp, shooting pain, burning sensations, or a constant dull ache. The pain may be intermittent or continuous, and its intensity can vary from mild to severe.

  3. Sensory Changes: People with peripheral neuropathy may have altered sensations in the affected areas. This can include increased sensitivity to touch, decreased ability to feel pain or temperature changes, or a general sense of numbness.

  4. Muscle Weakness: Weakness in the affected muscles is a common symptom of peripheral neuropathy. It can lead to difficulties with coordination, balance, and performing tasks that require fine motor skills.

  5. Loss of Reflexes: Reflexes may be diminished or absent in areas affected by peripheral neuropathy. This can be noticed during a physical examination by a healthcare professional.

  6. Motor Symptoms: In addition to muscle weakness, peripheral neuropathy can cause muscle cramps, twitching, or muscle wasting (atrophy). These motor symptoms can impact a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

  7. Autonomic Dysfunction: In some cases, peripheral neuropathy can affect the autonomic nerves that control involuntary bodily functions. This may lead to symptoms such as changes in blood pressure, heart rate, sweating, digestion, and bladder or bowel function.

  8. Balance and Coordination Problems: The sensory and motor disturbances caused by peripheral neuropathy can contribute to balance, coordination, and walking difficulties. Some individuals may experience a feeling of instability or have an increased risk of falls.

It’s important to note that peripheral neuropathy can gradually onset, and symptoms may progress slowly. The specific symptoms and severity can vary among individuals, depending on the underlying cause, the nerves affected, and other factors.

If you experience any persistent or concerning symptoms suggestive of peripheral neuropathy, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and management. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms, prevent further nerve damage, and improve overall quality of life.

peripheral neuropathy symptoms

Peripheral neuropathy: Causes

Peripheral neuropathy can have various causes, and the exact cause may not be identified in many cases. Some common causes of peripheral neuropathy include:

  1. Diabetes: Diabetes is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy. High blood sugar levels over an extended period can damage the nerves, particularly in the legs and feet.

  2. Autoimmune Disorders: Certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, can cause the immune system to attack and damage peripheral nerves.

  3. Infections: Certain infections can lead to peripheral neuropathy. These include viral infections like herpes zoster (shingles), Epstein-Barr virus, and HIV/AIDS, as well as bacterial infections such as Lyme disease and leprosy.

  4. Hereditary Factors: Some individuals may inherit genetic mutations that make them more susceptible to developing peripheral neuropathy. Examples include Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and hereditary sensory neuropathies.

  5. Trauma or Injury: Physical trauma, such as accidents, sports injuries, or repetitive motion injuries, can damage the peripheral nerves and result in neuropathy.

  6. Toxic Substances: Exposure to certain toxins and chemicals can cause peripheral neuropathy. Examples include heavy metals (lead, mercury), industrial chemicals (solvents, pesticides), and certain medications (chemotherapy drugs, some antibiotics).

  7. Nutritional Deficiencies: Deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, vitamin E, and folate, can lead to nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy.

  8. Alcohol Abuse: Excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption can cause peripheral neuropathy. Alcohol has a toxic effect on nerves and can lead to nerve damage.

  9. Medications: Some medications, especially those used in chemotherapy, can cause peripheral neuropathy as a side effect. Other medications associated with peripheral neuropathy include certain antibiotics, antivirals, and anticonvulsants.

  10. Other Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can be associated with peripheral neuropathy, including kidney disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism, and cancer.

It’s important to note that this list needs to be completed, and there may be other less common causes of peripheral neuropathy. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional, including a detailed medical history, physical examination, and potentially further diagnostic tests, is necessary to determine the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy in an individual case.


Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. Understanding its causes, recognizing symptoms, and seeking timely medical intervention is crucial for effective management. 

If you suspect peripheral neuropathy, consult Renew Medical Centre’s experts, who can diagnose adequately and develop a personalized treatment plan to help alleviate symptoms and improve your overall well-being.