Peripheral Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

SmartEm Research Team
July 17, 2021

Peripheral Neuropathy is a disease that affects one in 20 people, usually women aged over 60 who have diabetes and causes damage to the peripheral nerves. When injured, these nerves can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, fatigue, muscle atrophy and impaired balance.

These symptoms are associated with many diseases affecting the nervous system including diabetes and alcohol abuse.

Types of Peripheral Neuropathy

There are 3 types of peripheral neuropathy: herpes zoster, polyneuropathy and mononeuritis. They occur due to causes such as toxins, metabolic causes or genetic causes. Their symptoms are also different:

Herpes zoster neuropathy [caused by the shingles virus] is painful and causes skin lesions. Polyneuropathy causes pain in all parts of your body (allodynia), as well as numbness and tingling. Mononeuritis causes one or two injuries to a nerve, such as muscle weakness or tingling.

MONONEURITIS: causes include diabetic neuropathy and alcoholism; causes paresthesias in upper parts of your body.

POLYNEPHRITIS: causes include diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, infections (HIV, Lyme disease), chemotherapy, exposure to chemicals, and heavy metal poisoning. Symptoms include paresthesias in the small extremities and autonomic symptoms such as impotence or gastrointestinal distress.

Polyneuropathy causes pain in all parts of your body (allodynia), as well as numbness and tingling.

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are pain, numbness and tingling in the legs. The pain is often described as burning or aching and it can range from mild to severe. People with the condition may also experience excessive sweating or an all-over body rash. They may also have difficulty with balance due to muscle weakness in the legs.

People are more likely to be diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy if they are older than 50 and have diabetes, alcohol abuse, vitamin deficiencies, pulmonary conditions such as lung cancer or COPD, Parkinson’s disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

There is also a rare form of nerve damage called Charcot Marie Tooth syndrome that can cause peripheral neuropathy. These diseases can damage the peripheral nerves, which help with motor control and sensory perception.

Peripheral Neuropathy Causes

The causes of peripheral neuropathy are varied and can include chronic diseases such as diabetes, but also traumatic injuries or exposure to toxic substances.

Peripheral Neuropathy causes include: most forms of Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C (donor who is HCV+), malnutrition, heavy metal poisoning, smoking tobacco and exposure to toxins in the workplace or home. Diabetes causes an estimated 60 to 80 percent of all cases of Peripheral Neuropathy.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes can damage the peripheral nerves, which help with motor control and sensory perception. Traumatic injuries and exposure to toxic substances can also lead to nerve damage.

Toxic causes of Peripheral Neuropathy can result from exposure to toxic substances in the home or at work such as solvents and lead. Lead toxicity often causes sensory neuropathy.

The causes of peripheral neuropathy can often relate to what we eat and how we live our lives. Drinking too much alcohol causes dehydration and affects the kidneys, which may lead to nerve damage.

Some causes of peripheral neuropathy may also be genetic. There are causes that are unknown such as viral causes, and nerve damage can come from trauma or injury to the body.

Poor blood circulation causes the pressure of blood to become too high on the nerves which causes peripheral neuropathy. The causes of peripheral neuropathy are simple or complicated depending on the causes and symptoms that you experience.  

Long periods of inactivity or sitting down for example, on long flights or driving, may also cause symptoms. Prolonged exposure to vibration causes physical and mental fatigue which causes a dull pain up the legs to the upper body. This causes numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.

Peripheral Neuropathy causes may arise from an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and other factors. Vitamin and minerals are important causes of peripheral neuropathy causes, and the deficiency can cause painful numbness in both legs to the arms.

How is Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy is usually made by a physical examination, neurological exam, and medical history. Diagnostic tests may also be needed to find the underlying cause of the symptoms which include blood tests, MRI and other tests to determine what is causing the symptoms.

Treating Peripheral Neuropathy

A combination of rest, exercise and medical treatment is often used to manage severe pain caused by peripheral neuropathy. Pain relief medication such as morphine may be prescribed. The underlying cause must also be treated using medications or lifestyle changes in the case of chronic diseases.

If there are specific physical symptoms that can be irritated by touching or manipulating the area, such as an injury to the skin, then a brace to protect it may be advised.

Lifestyle changes and pain relief can help people live with peripheral neuropathy. In some cases, surgery is needed in severe cases of nerve damage.

Treatment options include acupuncture, steroid injections, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. Other methods that may be used to help relieve symptoms are transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or targeted muscle re-education exercises. Surgery is sometimes necessary for the most severe cases of peripheral neuropathy such as damage caused by toxins or diabetes.

Peripheral Neuropathy can be a debilitating disease and keeping active is essential to help keep the symptoms at bay. Balancing rest with exercising will ensure that you are comfortable enough to remain active and live as normal a life as possible.

Resting when your body needs it ensures that you have the energy to complete daily activities on days when your symptoms flare up, then you can go for a walk, do some housework or attend to other activities.

Wearing compression stockings on the legs or arms may help people suffering from peripheral neuropathy. These stockings are tight-fitting compression garments that are used for those who have poor blood circulation in their arms and legs due to various causes such as high blood pressure or long periods of sitting down with little movement.

In people with diabetes, high glucose or sugar levels causes damage to the nerves in the effected area and causes pain. This nerve damage is also known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy causes which causes tingling and numbness in hands, feet and legs.

Diabetes causes peripheral neuropathy in the long term by affecting circulation and causes nerve damage which causes numbness or loss of sensation while walking. This causes a person with diabetes to have insufficient feeling in hands, legs or feet, making it unsafe to walk without some form of assistance such as a cane or a walker.

Vitamins and Herbs For Nerve Pain

Peripheral Neuropathy causes also cover a wide range from vitamin and mineral deficiencies to environmental causes like working with harmful chemicals, to excess stress causes and many more.

A medical professional can help diagnose the causes of peripheral neuropathy, however it is up to you to treat this causes disease by embarking on a lifestyle program that will reduce the causes of peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

Peripheral Neuropathy causes can arise from the environment we live in, and are often related to our lifestyle habits. Excess salt intake causes sodium overload and may lead to nerve damage while exposure to heavy metals causes heavy metal poisoning which causes peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy causes include more than toxic chemical exposure and can be caused by heavy alcohol consumption, poor diet, stress or a hereditary causes of Peripheral Neuropathy.

Taking the right vitamins like Vitamin B12 when deficient in bioactive vitamin B12 may also help treat causes of peripheral neuropathy. Vitamin B has two important forms: methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. Some research suggests that the infusion or injection of vitamin B may also help.

Gingko biloba is another supplement for nerve pain which can be used alongside other treatments such as acupuncture or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Gingko Biloba causes a blood vessel dilating effect which causes an increase in blood flow to the area which in turn causes relief of pain signals up through the nerves from damaged cells to the brain.

Turmeric extract has been found to be effective in relieving peripheral neuropathy, as it is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric causes pain relief by inhibiting the activity of a substance in the body called TNF-alpha, which causes inflammation. Curcumin is the chemical responsible for turmeric's antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties. It causes an increase in signalling between nerve cells in the brain due to its antioxidant action, thus reducing pain caused by peripheral neuropathy.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant causes that prevent free radical damage in the nerves, therefore preventing causes of peripheral neuropathy causes from. worsening. Vitamin C causes also helps with wound healing by increasing the production of collagen and causes new blood vessels to grow. It causes a reduction in causes of peripheral neuropathy symptoms, increases the absorption of iron and is important for normal immune system function.

Alpha lipoic acid induces an increase in the cellular antioxidant levels and causes inhibition of lipid per oxidation, which prevents and alleviates causes of peripheral neuropathy. Alpha lipoic acid also increases the ability of mitochondria to produce energy, thus offering protection from nerve damage-caused pain sensations.

Kelp is another peripheral neuropathy treatment that causes a reduction in pain related symptoms and slowing of progression for diabetic nerve damage.

Garlic can cause an increase in nitric oxide levels which reduce pain. Garlic prevents inflammation, has antioxidant properties and anticoagulant properties to avoid blood clotting and thrombosis.

Supplements For Neuropathy

Supplements are beneficial to many causes of peripheral neuropathy and symptoms due to their balanced blend of vitamins and nutrients shown to support overall nerve health. Some of the most popular products and formulas include:


There are some causes of peripheral neuropathy that can be prevented, such as diabetes. However, there are causes of peripheral neuropathy that cannot be prevented.


In order to treat peripheral neuropathy, it is important to know the causes. Determining what caused your symptoms will help you find a treatment that works best for you and prevent future flare ups as well. It's also important to take steps to reduce these underlying causes in your life so they don't return again.

By incorporating a healthy diet, natural high quality causes supplements such as those listed above, detoxing the body of toxins through saunas or massages and managing stress levels through meditation or yoga causes, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can be managed.

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