What is peripheral neuropathy? In order to understand the cause behind it, you need to understand this condition. In simple words:
“Peripheral neuropathy is a problem that targets your peripheral nerves. Messages are sent by your nerves from the brain, the spinal cord, and the central nervous system to the rest of your body. These messages are inflammatory in nature and cause pain, especially in the hands and feet.”
For example, when your hands are cold, the message becomes static and therefore you feel numbness, prickling, tingling, and muscle weakness. Peripheral neuropathy affects different nerves and in various locations.
Did you know that more than 20 million in the US suffer peripheral neuropathy? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, not all people get tested for neuropathy pain, which is why they don’t receive the right treatment.
Classification of Peripheral Neuropathy
Before we proceed to the causes, let’s talk about the types of nerves that are involveds in the process. This will help you better understand the reason behind the causes:
- Motor Nerves: Controls movement of muscles such as when you are grasping things, walking, or talking.
- Sensory Nerves: Send out information like temperature, feeling of a touch, or the pain you feel from a cut.
- Autonomic Nerves: Control different organs in order to regulate activities, which people cannot control consciously like digesting food, breathing, and gland and heart functions.
Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
Now that you know what function the nerves perform, you will be able to classify which cause is related to what nerve.
1. Physical Injury and Trauma
This is the top cause of nerve injury. Automobile accidents, medical and sports procedures, and falls can compress, crush, or stretch nerves.
In some cases, the nerves detach from your spinal cord. Even less severe traumas that you don’t feel in the initial days, can cause some type of nerve damage.
Then, there is the occasional dislocated or broken bone, which puts pressure on the neighboring nerves, a slip disk that can compress the nerves, an arthritis that cast puts pressure on the nerves repetitively, and finally, forceful activities that can make tendons or ligaments swell that narrow the pathways of slender nerves. Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually what leads to peripheral neuropathy due to compressed nerves.
Infections attack the nerve tissues in cases such as chicken pox, shingles, cytomegalovirus, West Nile virus, and herpes. The infections from these diseases target the sensory fibers and cause sharp, lightning-like pain. Other infections that target peripheral nerves come from tick bites and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The leading cause behind polyneuropathy is diabetes. It is the deterioration of the peripheral nerves that spreads towards the centre of the body. Diabetes usually affects all three nerves. The symptoms that follow diabetic neuropathy include numbness, burning or tingling feet, pain, and weakness on around the pelvis and trunk.
4. Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune disease affects the body in two different ways. The systematic autoimmune disease causes the immune system to malfunction. It mistakenly attacks the body tissues and targets the nerves directly. Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and lupus are types of systemic autoimmune diseases, which that cause neuropathic pain.
Autoimmune disease, which attacks the nerves only when it is are triggered by infections. When the motor fibers get damaged, muscle weakness sets in, which even cause the muscles to shrink due to Guillain-Barré syndrome.
5. Blood and Vascular Problems
Blood and vascular problems decrease the supply of oxygen to your peripheral nerves. This is what leads to tissue damage. It usually happens if you are a smoker and diabetic. The arteries become narrow from atherosclerosis (the blood vessel walls develop fatty deposits) or high blood pressure, which leads to neuropathy.
Another cause is that the walls of the blood vessels thicken and become scared due to vasculitis. This impedes blood flow, which results in patchy nerve damage and causes damage in isolated nerves. The nerve damage is called multifocal mononeuropathy or mononeuropathy multiplex.
6. Vitamin and Nutritional Imbalance
A Deficiency of Vitamin B12 can lead to peripheral neuropathy, which is why it is the main ingredient in most of the neuropathy supplements. On the other hand, excess of Vitamin B6 cause neuropathy. Lack of B Vitamins can not only cause nerve damage but also anemia and degeneration of your spinal cord.
7. Chemotherapy Drugs
The drugs used in chemotherapy can cause polyneuropathy. The drugs usually cause loss of movement and senses. If the drugs are changed, the pain might go away. However, if they cause severe never damage, the pain will continue even after the therapy is over and you are cured for cancer.
8. Heredity Disorders
Hereditary neuropathy disorders refer to two nerve disorders that cause your muscles to waste away and lead to weakness. The symptoms are generally limited to the hands and below the knees. The two hereditary neuropathies include Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease (CMT) and Hereditary Neuropathy with Liability to Pressure Palsies (HNPP).
9. Hormonal Imbalance
An imbalance in your hormones can disturb the normal metabolic process. This leads to swollen and inflammatory tissues that put pressure on the peripheral nerves.
10. Liver and Kidney Disorders
The use of toxic substances such as alcohol, drugs and toxins can lead to liver and kidney failure. These toxins enter the blood and damage the nerve tissues. People who are on dialysis usually develop polyneuropathy.
That concludes the ten causes of neuropathy flare ups. Finding out the origin of your neuropathic pain can help you get the right treatment. With so many effective neuropathic supplements on the market, you can easily treat the pain at home.
In the meantime, rest more, wear less restricting clothes, eat a balanced diet, take vitamins and herbs that support healthy nerves, and don’t feel obligated to attend a social gathering if you don’t feel like it. Sometimes, a self-care box works quite well for people who suffer from peripheral neuropathy. Simply fill a box with all the things that make you happy and on a particularly painful day, rummage through and pick the things that comfort you.