What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to a problem with the peripheral nerves. These nerves send messages from the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body.

The peripheral nerves tell the body when, for example, the hands are cold. It can lead to tingling, prickling, numbness, and muscle weakness in various parts of the body.

Peripheral neuropathy can affect a range of different nerves, so it can impact a variety of locations in different ways. It can affect a single nerve, or several nerves at the same time.

It is also associated with a number of different underlying medical conditions. Sometimes there is no identifiable cause.

It affects some 20 million people in the United States (U.S.).

Fast facts on peripheral neuropathy

Here are some key points about peripheral neuropathy. More detail is in the main article.

  • Neuropathy is a common complication of a number of different medical conditions.

  • It can involve the autonomic nerves, the motor nerves, and the sensory nerves.
  • Sometimes it affects a single nerve or nerve set, for example, in Bell's Palsy, which affects a facial nerve.
  • Physical trauma, repetitive injury, infection, metabolic problems, and exposure to toxins and some drugs are all possible causes.
  • People with diabetes have a high risk of neuropathy.
Sydney Sharon