With 20% of all Americans suffering from it, Peripheral Neuropathy is a very common disease that has a severe impact on the lifestyle of those suffering from it. Simply put, Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition whereby the nerves lose the ability to function properly and the patient ends up with either numbness in the lower extremities of the body or continuous pain and burning in the hands or the feet.
While the causes of Peripheral Neuropathy vary from patient to patient, there are certain conditions that are commonly associated with Peripheral Neuropathy. Below is a list of these conditions.
Diabetes is a major life threatening disease that is also one of the leading causes of Peripheral Neuropathy. An estimated 60% of all Diabetic patients are diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy. Diabetes increases the blood sugar in the body to dangerous levels which in turn results in causing damages to the nerves.
2. Physical injury
Physical injury or trauma is the leading cause of Neuropathy and occurs when a person goes through an accident that severely damages the nerves. Accidents such as car accidents or falling can make the nerves partially or completely damaged and sometimes the intensity of the accident can make the nerves partially separated from the spinal cord.
Less intense accidents can also result in serious nerve damages. Bones that get fractured or dislocated can exert detrimental pressure on partnering nerves, and slipped disks can constrict nerve fibers which surface from the spinal cord.
3. Systemic diseases
Systemic diseases are disorders that have a negative effect on the body and can often result in what is known as metabolic neuropathy. These disorders include metabolic and endocrine disorders. Nerve tissues are extremely susceptible to damage from diseases that hinder the body’s capacity to convert nutrients into energy, flush out toxins, and create the substances that form the living tissue.
4. Kidney or liver disorders
Kidney disorders can result in unusually high amounts of toxins in the blood that can in turn cause severe damage to the nerve tissues. A lot of patients who need dialysis as treatment for kidney failure develop a condition known as poly-neuropathy. Moreover, due to chemical imbalance, some liver diseases may also lead to neuropathy.
5. Hormonal imbalance
Imbalanced hormones can distort regular metabolic processes and as a result cause neuropathy. For instance, lesser production of the thyroid hormones slows down the metabolism leading the body to retain fluid. In addition to this, the underproduction of the thyroid hormone can also swell up the tissues that can apply added pressure on the peripheral nerves.
Similarly, overproduction of hormones can also cause several problems. For example, overproduction of the growth hormone can lead to a condition commonly known as acromegaly, which is characterized by the unusual enlargement of many parts of the body including the joints. As a result, nerves going through these joints frequently become entrapped.
6. Vascular damage
Vascular damage, or damage to the circulatory system, can reduce the supply of oxygen to the peripheral nerves and rapidly cause severe damage or even death of nerve tissues, similar to the way a sudden decrease in the supply of oxygen to the brain can lead to a stroke. Also, diabetes often results in blood vessel constriction.
Several different types of vasculits (inflammation of blood vessels) can make the vessel walls get harder, thicker, and develop scar tissues, reducing the diameter of the vessels as well as impede the flow of blood. This type of nerve damage is known as mono-neuropathy multiplex or multifocal mono-neuropathy and occurs when secluded nerves in various parts are damaged.
7. Recurring Stress
Recurring stress is when an affected area is put under pressure repeatedly causing the injury to that area to worsen. Recurring stress usually leads to a condition known as entrapment neuropathy, which is special type of compression injury. Collective damage to the nerves can be a result of activities that require repetitive or forceful movements of any group of joints over an extended period of time. Consequently, the irritation resulting from the constant stress can cause the ligaments, muscles, and tendons to become inflamed. This inflammation contracts the slender areas through which some of the nerves pass.
Toxins are also a common cause of Peripheral Neuropathy. People whose work involves exposure to heavy metals or environmental fumes often develop Peripheral Neuropathy.
People who drink a high amount of alcohol are generally at a higher risk of developing Peripheral Neuropathy than those who drink it in moderation or don’t drink it at all. Neuropathy which results from consuming alcohol is known as Alcoholic Neuropathy and alcohol leads to Neuropathy because it causes damage to the nerves.
The above mentioned 9 causes are the leading causes of peripheral neuropathy; however, they aren’t the only causes. An individual can be diagnosed with the disease due to many more reasons.