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What is peripheral neuropathy?

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.

Managing neuropathy
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, may help control pain. 
Topical ointments and creams, such as capsaicin 0.075 percent cream, containing chili pepper, may ease pain. Patches are also available.
Symptoms
Symptoms vary according to the types of neuropathy.

Sensory neuropathy

The person may have:
  • tingling and numbness
  • pins and needles and hypersensitivity
  • increased pain or inability to feel pain
  • loss of ability to detect changes in heat and cold
  • loss of co-ordination and proprioception
  • burning, stabbing, lancing, boring, or shooting pains, which may be worse at night
Causes

Many types of neuropathy are "idiopathic," or of unknown cause, but a number of conditions can trigger it.
Diabetes is the most common cause of chronic peripheral neuropathy. It happens when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves.
Other medical conditions and injuries include:
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Injuries: Broken bones and tight plaster casts can put pressure directly on the nerves.
  • Infections: Shingles, HIV infection, Lyme disease, and others can lead to nerve damage.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome: This is a specific type of peripheral neuropathy, triggered by infection.
  • Some autoimmune disorders
Natural treatments

Non-drug measures include:
  • wearing fabrics that do not irritate, such as cotton
  • covering sensitive areas with a plastic wound dressing or cling film
  • using warm or cold packs, unless the problem is worsened by heat or cold
What is peripheral neuropathy?

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