peripheral neuropathyThere’s a saying that “all roads lead to Rome,” and while it’s not true on a literal basis, the idea that multiple starting points can lead to the same destination does apply in various regards. This certainly is easy enough to see when it comes to travel—for example, patients come to our Surprise, AZ office by taking different roads from Phoenix, Glendale, or Scottsdale—but it applies in more abstract or metaphorical ways as well.

We can see the truth in that saying when it comes to the fact that there can be multiple causes behind a multitude of medical conditions– case in point: peripheral neuropathy.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is an issue with nerves in your extremities not functioning properly. People suffering from this condition typically feel painful burning, tingling, and even sharp stabbing sensations in their lower limbs. 

Your brain, spinal cord, and network of nerves make up your central nervous system. And it’s the peripheral nervous system that receives and relays messages between your spine/brain and the other parts of your body.

Anything that causes damage to this system will result in neuropathy. There are a few different types of nerves in your body. They are autonomic, motor, and sensory nerves.

The symptoms patients feel vary depending on the number and type of nerves affected. And if there is severe enough nerve damage, it can lead to numbness– which in turn leads to a host of other medical problems in the long run.

Most believe only diabetics suffer from peripheral neuropathy. And rightly so since somewhere between 60-70% of people with diabetes end up with nerve damage. 

As with most things, however, that’s not the case. The truth is that anybody can suffer from this condition. There can be several alternative root causes. Let’s take a look at some of them below:

  • Autoimmune diseases – Autoimmune diseases cause your immune system to start attacking your own cells. This can lead to nerve damage that causes neuropathy. These diseases include lupus, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Sjorgren’s syndrome, Sjorgren’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis, along with others.
  • Genetics and mutations – There are some conditions passed down from parent to child that cause peripheral neuropathy. And even if there’s no inherited reason, then mutations in the genome can also cause it to happen.
  • Infections – Viral and bacterial infections are both known to cause peripheral neuropathy. Some of these infections include West Nile, Shingles, Lyme disease, diphtheria, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and leprosy. 
  • Trauma – A traumatic injury can also damage the nerves. This can be from a car accident, sporting injury, falling, work injury, or something like surgery too. 
  • Vitamin deficiencies – Your body requires certain vitamins (and enough of them) for your nerves to function properly. These include vitamins B, E, and D, along with niacin. Lacking in any of these essential vitamins can lead to nerve damage.
  • Pressure – Injuries or conditions, such as having a tumor, can compress, pinch or even sever the nerve. These tend to cause extreme pain and numbness.
  • Toxins, poisons, and alcoholism – Exposure to toxins and poisons like mercury, arsenic, and lead can result in neuropathy. There have also been some pesticides that cause nerve damage. And suffering from alcoholism for many years wreaks havoc on nerve functions.
  • Medications – Some medications and treatments also cause peripheral neuropathy as an unfortunate side effect. For instance, chemotherapy can damage nerves in the process. Also, some HIV/AIDS medications result in neuropathy.  
  • Stress from repetitive motions – Some injuries occur over time from repeated actions, such as from working and playing a sport like tennis. A form of peripheral neuropathy you’re likely familiar with is carpal tunnel syndrome which comes from repetitive stress.
  • Other conditions – Other conditions can contribute to peripheral neuropathy as well. They include kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and liver diseases. 

There are some ways to prevent conditions that cause peripheral neuropathy. These include exercise and a healthy diet with a good dose of stretching (like yoga). 

However, when it comes down to it, the best way to treat peripheral neuropathy is to deal with the core issue. And the only way to find out the underlying condition is to get the right diagnosis. In some cases, neuropathy can be reversed. Unfortunately, some people will need long-term pain management and treatment options.

If you’ve been dealing with nerve issues, it’s important to address them quickly before the problems worsen. Our team at Fixing Feet Institute is here to help and provide quality care and solutions. Feel free to reach out today!  Contact our office through our website or call us at (623) 584-5556.

Dr. Peyman A. Elison
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Founder and Managing Partner of Fixing Feet Institute
13 Comments
There are many other causes of Peripheral Neuropathy in your feet and legs. Diabetes is definitely not the only condition that causes it. I see this in my practice daily. Other common causes of Peripheral Neuropathy can be from vitamin deficiencies, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disease, protein abnormalities, alcoholism, and hereditary conditions. I typically do a panel of blood testing to find the cause. I have been doing this for the past 15 years and have been very successful in finding the cause. The true treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy is to treat the underlying condition that is causing it. For example, if your vitamin D level is low, you will need to take supplements to increase your levels to a healthy range. This way your nerves will have the building blocks to get better. Peripheral Neuropathy can get worse over time if you don’t treat what is causing it. Sometimes there is no treatment that will improve it because the nerves have significantly degenerated. If you are in Surprise or a suburb of the Phoenix area, I would recommend making an appointment for a nerve evaluation, to determine the extent of the damage, and attempt to find the cause.
by Dr. Peyman Elison July 7, 2022 at 04:42 PM
I was diagnosed with idiopathic non diabetic peripheral neuropathy in my foot & was told the treatment would be the same if I saw a neurologist or not. The gabapentin helps a lot but I still wants some answers from a neurologist like where this is coming from, will it get worse even with the gabapentin,, will it get worse with age & how to best treat it along with the gabapentin.
by Stuart Boone June 11, 2022 at 08:24 PM
For anyone who has progressive peripheral neuropathy and have titanium implants, have your doctor set you up with an aluminum serum blood test. I researched and had it done. Mine was 39 and the reference range is 0-9. Dialysis is 40. I had seen gastroenterologists and neurologists in Omaha and Chicago. No answers. I ended up jaundice and very sick. It was time for me to start researching and find out the hows and whys. So much suffering for years and I ( ME, MYSELF AND I ) discovered the culprit. VERY LONG JOURNEY!!! Feel free to ask me anything. The damage is irreversible and progresses. Although, the aluminum levels dropped once the the tiny titanium screw in my foot was removed. Good Luck on your own personal journey 💔
by Susan Yager June 7, 2022 at 09:42 AM
I have peripheral neuropathy. I had Lyme disease. Have sjogrens and intracranial hypertension. Im on gabapentin which seems like is the standard treatment for PN. Mine comes an goes but when it comes back it is worse than the prior flare.
by Rebecca Jones May 19, 2022 at 08:40 AM
I was an alcoholic for 10 years, up until I went to the ER after weeks of feeling a list of symptoms. Tired, weak, coughing fits, losing my voice.. on top of all that I had a huge cyst on my armpit that popped on it's own. I stopped breathing an hour after casually going to the ER. Ended up on a vent/ drug induced coma. I had severe anemia, sepsis, and pneumonia. Only 31 years old and I had family fly out thinking they were going to watch me die. I spent 17 days in the ICU/ hospital, and had to learn to walk again. Anywaaaays.. I have non-diabetic neuropathy now, and everything is fairly numb below my knee's (and finger tips), especially my toes. Slowly but surely the swelling went down, and the pain was less excruciating. Still get some pain (especially at night), but overall it's the numbness i'm sick and tired of. Jumping, running is out of the question .. I take Gabapentin (have been for years before all this happened) and it really does help. I just started taking something called Alpha Lipoic Acid, because i've heard a lot of good things. First day on it, so not sure how well it will work.. but I think also exercise and watching how much sodium and sugar you take in helps. I really just want it to completely go away, but i'm sure like all of you.. you've talked to a doctor and they aren't much help. I guess there's no cure and only lifestyle changes that can at least help a little. Really sucks being (now) 32 and I can't even jog without feeling like my legs and feet were submerged in ice water.
by Tre May 17, 2022 at 01:56 PM
I have non diabetic neuropathy. I don't know why. I do have back issues. Gabapentin stopped the burning pain in my thighs.
by Karen May 9, 2022 at 09:23 AM
I have had Periphial Neuropathy for many years. I have lost feeling in my feet for most part. It is now past my knees and now effecting my finger tips. I will warn all. It never stops getting worse as well as moving up my body. I deplore anyone who gets this diesease get to a Doctor ASAP.
by Steve May 5, 2022 at 06:33 AM
I have non diabetes neuropathy, very painful. Also have gout and osteoarthritis, Have been in two vehicle accident with injuries. I’m just wanting some relief , I take gabapentin daily, would love to be active again
by Linda Murray April 15, 2022 at 12:55 AM
I have peripheral neuropathy. I experience burning sensation on my shins and feet, no pain and only when I'm in bed at night. I had couple tunnel release and have arthritis.
by Candy Hassin April 8, 2022 at 07:12 AM
I to have neuropathy in my feet , sometimes the sharp burning pain is unbearable, wearing shoes is miserable, My doctor has always prescribed gabapentin , and exercise. It doesn’t help! I have had several major surgeries after being in a car accident, I have gout and osteoarthritis. I want more out of life than this ! Any new options out there?
by Linda Murray March 31, 2022 at 07:54 AM
I recently had surgery for a fractured ankle; 2 screws on inside and plate with locking screws outside. As I began to heal, I developed sharp stabbing pains in my toes, the surgical sites, and it began to radiate up my leg. I thought I would see a dermatologist about this and was told that most likely I have a peripheral neuropathy. I thought it was just a problem with my skin because it was so sensitive. Reading your blog help me to understand better that the surgery could be creating this issue, and question is that once I am thru therapy (6 mo. max?) will this neuropathy problem go away or will I have to continue taking a medication for life?
by Lynda March 21, 2022 at 08:55 PM
My NP started just after my first Covid jab but I really don't know the cause. I have no symptoms of diabetes but I do have gout and also osteoarthritis. I am 76.
by Anne Doney March 16, 2022 at 11:49 PM
I have non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy. I have no pain. The nerves in my lower legs have stopped functioning. The cause is unknown. Is there a way to determining the cause and ultimately the cure my form of peripheral neuropathy. As far as I know, no one in my family line has had non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
by Abraham Schneider February 19, 2022 at 02:48 PM
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