All nerves that lie outside of the Central Nervous System (CNS) are referred to as Peripheral Nerves. The term Peripheral Neuropathy refers to damage to one or more peripheral nerves. These nerves not only receive messages from the brain, but send messages back to the brain indicating such things as pressure, pain, and cold or hot temperatures. When neuropathy occurs, the messages become distorted or are interrupted.
Because there are a number of different types of nerves in the body, patient’s symptoms can vary greatly based on which nerves are affected. Some people with peripheral neuropathy will experience numbness, some sharp pain, some tingling, and other burning. Motor nerve fibers can also be affected which can cause weakness and muscle wasting (atrophy). Organ function can even be affected by this problem.
For many, the problem starts insidiously in their feet and can then move up their legs. It often is then found to involve the hands and can likewise move up the arms. This type of presentation is often associated with diabetes and other metabolic diseases, but can also be related to alcohol use, medications, chemotherapy or other unknown (Idiopathic) causes. We often see this type of neuropathy associated with nutritional deficiencies and imbalances.
Peripheral nerves can also be damaged by trauma or repetitive stress and strain. Sudden traumas like seen in sports or car accidents can cause nerves to be stretched, crushed, or severed. Repetitive stresses and biomechanical imbalances can cause bones to shift, muscles to tighten, joints and soft tissues to become inflamed, and discs to bulge or herniate. All of these factors can cause irritation and damage to nerves, which can cause tingling, numbness, and pain. These are referred to more specifically as Entrapment Neuropathies. A common example of this is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Symptoms of Nerve Pain