A Brief Overview of Peripheral Neuropathy:


Peripheral neuropathy (PN) refers to damaged or diseased nerves in the extremities. Some neuropathies are...

"length dependant" (affecting the longest nerves) while others may be...

"Autoimmune" (in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues) and there are other less common categories such as "autonomic," "Entrapment Neuropathies" or "chemically induced," etc.


P-N May be Diagnosed as "Large Fiber" or "Small Fiber."

Large fiber neuropathies may includes loss of joint position, vibration sense, touch and motion control issues, whereas...

Small fiber neuropathy manifests numbness, stinging pains and limited thermo sensations. Both affect balance over time.


Peripheral Neuropathy May be Chronic or Acute...

Acute Neuropathies have sudden onset, rapid progress and slow resolution. They demand urgent diagnosis. They are most often autoimmune diseases Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and Guillain Barre syndrome.
Chronic Neuropathy is a long term condition where symptoms begin subtly and progress slowly.


P-N  Symptoms Include...

"Sensory" or loss of sensation often accompanied by paresthesia. Sensory PN is the most prevalent but sometimes symptoms can overlap.Sensory neuropathies can cause poor balance, reduced sensitivity to temperature, tingling, burning or random, localized stabbing pains. Although sensory neuropathy is characterized by numbness on the surface of the skin, it can still be very painful despite the numbness.

"Motor" or loss of muscle strength or control, impaired balance and coordination.

"Autonomic" or loss of control of internal organs and bodily functions. It may produce diverse symptoms, depending on the affected glands and organs. These include poor bladder control, abnormal blood pressure or heart rate, and reduced ability to sweat normally.


Other Peripheral Neuropathy Descriptions Include...

"Entrapment Neuropathy" is compression of a nerve. It can be caused by direct injury to a nerve, interruption of blood supply to nerves (ischemia) or inflammation. This may be a cause of...

"Mono Neuropathy" which affects just one nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve palsy are examples. When two or more separate nerves are affected in different areas, it's called ...

"Multifocal Mono Neuropathy" (MMN). This may cause deep aching pain that is worse at night and frequently occurs in the lower back, hip, or leg. It typically presents with loss of motor functions of individual nerves. Similar forms are Peroneal P-N or Distal Motor P-N.

"Polyneuropathy" or "Distal Symmetrical Polyneuropathy" is when nerves in roughly the same areas on both sides of the body are affected. Two, or possibly all four, limbs might be affected.

"Plexopathy" is a disorder affecting a network of nerves, blood vessels, or lymph vessels. The region of nerves it affects are at the brachial or lumbosacral plexus. Symptoms include pain, loss of motor control, and sensory deficits.

Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIPD) is a disease of the nerves with weakness, numbness, and pain that can occur anytime in life. Nerve roots swell and destroy the myelin sheath (fatty tissue) around the nerves, which causes CIDP.

Anti-MAG Peripheral Neuropathy  is rare, affecting perhaps 5% of CIDP-like disorders. It happens when the body’s immune system develops antibodies against a key glycoprotein (myelin-associated glycoprotein, or MAG). MAG is essential to maintaining a healthy peripheral nervous system.


Peripheral NeuropathyPossible Causes include heredity, genetics, diabetes, chemical-induction, toxin exposures, medications, trauma, vitamin deficiencies (such as BI, B6 & B12), along with some diseases and infections. Usually P-N affects the myelin sheath surrounding a nerve or the nerve itself or axons (which connect nerves). In many cases, causal diagnoses are speculative.

There are many other known or suspected causes of P-N, but when the cause is not known, it is called idiopathic neuropathy. Regardless of cause, P-N can be very painful for some or debilitating in less painful ways for others. Idiopathic is the fastest growing diagnosis.


Similar Neuropathies...

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), Fibromyalgia and Neuritis are similar in many ways, but are not exactly the same as P-N. CMT is very serious and often has it's own support groups. Brachial Plexus Neuropathy is a rare form of peripheral neuropathy as is acute sensory neuronopathy.