In order for our bodies to function the brain sends out signals through neurotransmitters through our nerves to other cells in our body. Peripheral neuropathy occurs when nerve fibers that connect to the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body are damaged or diseased.
This conditions often causes pain and numbness in your extremities. It’s usually described as a tingling or burning sensation in your hands and feet or a complete loss of sensation. Peripheral neuropathy affects many different types of nerves. It can affect sensory nerves (the nerves that receive sensations), motor nerves (the nerves that control your muscles) and autonomic nerves (the nerves that control bodily functions like heart rate, digestion and blood pressure).
The cause of peripheral neuropathy depends on the person’s history because there are several conditions that can cause nerve damage in the body. Some conditions include:
Autoimmune diseases: Disease like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome all cause nerve damage.
Diabetes: High blood sugar causes the blood to become thicker unable to carry oxygen and other nutrients to cells that have thin veins. Without proper nutrients nerve cells and other cells die.
Infections: Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS also cause damage to nerve cells.
Trauma or pressure on the nerve: Motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and other accidents can cause damage to the nerve cells. Also, repeated frequent actions can cause pressure on nerve fibers such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which can eventually lead to peripheral neuropathy.
Tumors: Cancerous or noncancerous growths can form directly on the nerves or can exert pressure on surrounding nerves restricting communication between the brain and the rest of the body.
Vitamin deficiencies: All forms of Vitamin B, Vitamin E and the mineral Niacin are important to nerve health. People with improper diet and alcoholics can suffer from a vitamin deficiency.
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary due to which nerves are being affected. Usual symptoms include gradual numbness and tingling in your hands and feed moving upwards into your arms and legs respectively, a burning sensation throughout your body, sharp or electric like pain, extreme sensitivity to light and touch, lack of coordination and muscle weakness. In some rare cases paralysis can occur if motor nerves are being afflicted. And if autonomic nerves are impacted you can experience incontinence.
If you are experience any of the aforementioned symptoms then you should seek medical attention immediately. Your best course of action is to find a neurologist who can help you mitigate these symptoms and help prevent further damage to your nerves.