If you’ve never heard of neuropathy, it is damage to one or more nerves that can lead to tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, or pain in an affected area. There are many causes of Neuropathy.
Neuropathy typically starts in your hands and feet, but it isn’t unusual for other parts of your body to be affected as well.
Neuropathy is also frequently called peripheral neuropathy, and it indicates a problem within the peripheral nervous system.
Your peripheral nervous system is the system of peripheral nerves that are outside of your brain and spinal cord.
Your central nervous system is in your brain and spinal cord and the two systems have to work together.
Your central nervous system is the control center. Your peripheral nervous system and your peripheral nerves allow signals to travel to and from the central nervous system.
When nerve cells or neurons are damaged due to neuropathy, it disrupts how the nervous systems can communicate with each other.
In the article below, we will take a look at the causes of neuropathy, and what you can do if you are suffering from neuropathy.
Table of Contents
- Causes of Neuropathy
- Neuropathic Pain
- Who Can Get Neuropathy?
- When To See A Doctor
- Schedule A Visit With Ethos Health Group
Causes of Neuropathy
There are several causes of neuropathy, including diabetes, chemo-induced neuropathy, hereditary disorders, autoimmune disease, genetic disorders, poor nutrition, protein abnormalities, kidney failure, alcoholism, and certain medications.
However, even with so many causes of neuropathy, some people will never figure out what caused their neuropathy, which is called idiopathic neuropathy.
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy, and most people with diabetes will experience neuropathy.
If your peripheral neuropathy is caused by type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is referred to as diabetic neuropathy.
It’s typically caused by high levels of sugar in your blood that damage the blood vessels supplying your nerves.
The longer you have diabetes, the greater likelihood you have of developing peripheral neuropathy.
About 1 in 4 people who have diabetes will experience pain that is caused by nerve damage.
Your risk of neuropathy if you have diabetes is greater if you smoke, drink large amounts of alcohol, or are over 40 years old.
You should regularly examine your feet if you have diabetes to check for open wounds, sores, or chilblains.
Along with diabetes, there are several other possible causes of neuropathy.
There are many health conditions that can cause peripheral neuropathy, including:
- Cancer like lymphoma and multiple myeloma
- Amyloidosis which is a group of rare but severe health conditions caused by deposits of an abnormal protein called amyloid in tissues and organs
- Inflammed blood vessels
- Underactive thyroid gland
- Chronic liver or kidney disease
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, or coeliac disease
- Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that causes the accelerated onset of paralysis within days
- An abnormal protein in the blood
- Insufficient levels of vitamin B12 or other vitamins
- Physical damage to the nerves, such as from a traumatic injury
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease and different types of hereditary motor sensory neuropathy which are genetic conditions that cause nerve damage
- Excessive alcohol drinking for years
- High levels of toxins in your body, such as arsenic, lead, or mercury
- Infections such as shingles, Lyme disease, diphtheria, botulism, and HIV
There are also medicines that can cause peripheral neuropathies as a side effect.
The most common types of medications that can cause neuropathy are types of chemotherapies for cancer, especially lymphoma, myeloma, or bowel cancer.
Antibiotics, if they are taken for extended periods, can also cause neuropathy.
Phenytoin that is used to treat epilepsy, if taken for a long time, can cause peripheral neuropathy.
Amiodarone and thalidomide are also common causes of neuropathy.
Neuropathic pain is a side effect of peripheral neuropathy.
It’s a pain condition that’s typically caused by chronic, progressive nerve disease, or peripheral neuropathy, and it can also occur as the result of injury or infection.
If you have chronic neuropathic pain, it can flare up at a moment’s notice without warning or an obvious pain-inducing event or factor, and neuropathic pain tends to get worse over time.
Neuropathic pain isn’t typically triggered by an event or injury, but the body just sends pain signals to your brain unprompted.
People with this pain condition may experience shooting, burning pain that could be constant or occur intermittently.
A 2014 study estimated that as many as 10 percent of Americans experience some form of neuropathic pain.
Who Can Get Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is increasingly common. It is estimated that up to 30% of people in the United States will be affected by neuropathy.
Any person of any age can experience neuropathy, but older adults are at an increased risk.
Just about 8% of adults over the age of 65 report having symptoms of neuropathy.
As we discussed above, another common risk factor of neuropathy is diabetes.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and heavy alcohol use are other common risk factors of peripheral neuropathy.
Your job can also increase your risk of developing peripheral neuropathy.
If you work a job that requires repetitive motions, you will have a greater chance of developing mononeuropathies from trauma or compression of the nerves.
All of the nerves in your peripheral nervous system have a specific function, so your symptoms of neuropathy will depend on the affected nerves.
Your nerves are classified into three categories:
- Sensory nerves that receive sensations from the skin
- Motor nerves that control your muscle movement
- Autonomic nerves control functions like blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and your bladder.
The most typical signs and symptoms of neuropathy are:
- A gradual onset of numbness or tingling in your feet or hands that may spread upward into your legs and arms
- A lack of coordination
- Paralysis if your motor nerves are affected
- A sharp, jabbing, throbbing or burning pain
- Pain during activities that shouldn’t cause pain, like pain in your feet when putting weight on them or if they’re under a blanket
- Feeling like you’re wearing gloves or socks when you aren’t
- Muscle weakness
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
If your autonomic nerves are affected, you may experience
- An intolerance to heat
- Excessive sweating or the inability to sweat
- Bowel, bladder, or digestive problems
There are a few types of peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy can affect just one nerve, which is referred to as mononeuropathy.
It can affect two or more nerves in different areas, which is referred to as multiple mononeuropathies, or it can affect many nerves, which is called polyneuropathy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of mononeuropathy, and many people with peripheral neuropathy have polyneuropathy.
When To See A Doctor
If you notice any unusual tingling, weakness, or pain in your hands or feet, it could be a sign of peripheral neuropathy, and you should see a doctor right away.
Although there is no cure, an early diagnosis and treatment will give you the best chance to control your neuropathy symptoms and prevent further damage to your nerves.
If you’d like the best chance of avoiding the doctor and neuropathy, you should:
- Exercise regularly. Get at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise at least three times a week.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein to keep your nerves healthy. Eat foods high in vitamin B-12 like meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy foods, and fortified cereals. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, fortified cereals are a good source of vitamin B-12, but you can also look into supplementation.
- Avoid repetitive motions, cramped positions that put pressure on nerves, exposure to toxic chemicals, smoking, and overindulging in alcohol as they are all factors that may cause nerve damage.
Schedule A Visit With Ethos Health Group
Our Neuropathy treatment programs at Ethos Health Group consist of cutting-edge, non-invasive therapies designed to stimulate new blood vessels’ growth to help reverse nerve damage in the feet or hands.
When the sensation begins to improve, our team of healthcare providers will develop a customized balance program to give you the confidence you need to not live in fear of falling.
We also utilize our NeuroRegen-CT injections, which combine platelet-rich plasma (PRP) with platelet-derived growth factors from your own blood.
These natural regenerative procedures help support blood vessel and nerve growth to reverse damage from peripheral neuropathy safely.
If you’re ready to find relief from your neuropathy, you should contact Ethos Health Group as soon as possible.
Click the button below to schedule your free consultation.