There’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.