The nerves malfunction called peripheral neuropathy can either be an independently developed disorder or a complication of different diseases. Some cases are temporary only, while others can last even a lifetime. It can differ from patient to patient.

General neuropathy help remedies are similar to a large extent — nerve electrostimulation, acupuncture, and specially targeted diet and supplements. If there is a pre-existing illness, fighting and controlling it should ease the neuropathy symptoms, as well.

What are the exact and most common causes of peripheral neuropathy? Is it possible to avoid falling ill? We took a closer look at the issue and found the following answers:

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are absolute troublemakers for our health. Our organism is attacking and damaging itself. It’s attacking its own tissues. The battle makes us increasingly weaker and vulnerable to new illnesses and different injuries. One of the first victims is very often the nervous system. Here are the autoimmune diseases that neuropathy is associated with mostly:

Diabetes

Long-term blood sugar levels cause a lot of dangerous havoc in the organism. Diabetic food and eye damage are very common results of the disease. The reason is exactly peripheral neuropathy called in this case diabetic neuropathy.

If a person with diabetes can feel tingling, numbness or pain, that surely are neuropathy symptoms. Diabetic foot is probably the best-known diabetic neuropathy consequence. The person loses feeling in their feet which leads to the creation of blisters, injuries, and difficult to cure ulcers.

The issue is especially critical for diabetics because of the disease their injuries take a long time and careful treatment to heal completely. Under such conditions, it’s very easy to get a serious infection. Hence, neglected for a long time neuropathy symptoms can even lead to amputation of the extremities.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

RA can be a result of a viral infection, autoimmunity disorders or genetic predispositions. The disease causes severe joint inflammation. The joints become very painful, stiff, and swollen.

RA sufferers experience many side symptoms, as well. That can be fever, rash, red and green color blindness, and what interests us the most at the moment — tingling and numbness in the extremities, in arms especially.

The tingling and numbness sensation is caused by joint swelling. Swollen joints are pressing on nerves which leads to nerve entrapment. The consequence of the long-term entrapment is RA neuropathy with the risk of blood vessel inflammation.

Here’s how rheumatoid arthritis is commonly treated:

  • The main treatment goals in treating rheumatoid arthritis are to control inflammation and relieve joint pain and swelling.
  • Medications, physical or occupational therapy, and daily regular exercise are effective to reduce the signs and symptoms of RA.
  • Correcting joint damage often requires surgery for some people with rheumatoid arthritis, significantly improving a person’s quality of life.

Lupus

Among the symptoms of lupus neuropathy are drooping eyelids, headaches, facial pain, ulcers in the oral cavity, ringing in the ears, chest pains. Learn more about lupus by checking My Lupus Team, which explains the different types of lupus.

Check out the common treatment for lupus:

  • Medication: The medications used to treat lupus are antimalarial drugs, corticosteroids, NSAIDs, and immunosuppressants. Antimalarial drugs include hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. Unlike steroids, it may take several months before these drugs improve lupus symptoms.
  • Diet: A good diet is essential for lupus patients. Turmeric, ginger, flaxseeds, green tea, coconut oil, and apple cider have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which is required for lupus patients.
  • Complementary Medicine: Alternative therapies for lupus include biofeedback, imagery, relaxation, meditation, psychotherapy, hypnosis, music therapy, dance, and yoga. Biofeedback refers to the process to gain greater awareness of your body’s physiological functions. It involves using electronic devices or other instruments to manipulate the different systems of the body at will. 

HIV and AIDS

Here are the different treatment for HIV and AIDS:

  • Medications: Antiviral drugs, such as tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine, and emtricitabine can treat HIV. The first FDA-approved drug to combat HIV is Zidovudine or azidothymidine or AZT.
  • Alternative Treatment: Today, vaping and other forms of cannabis consumption are no longer just for those who want to experience “high” but also for those who are seeking cure or treatment. Cannabis has already been used as holistic therapy for various medical conditions even before the birth of the internet or the modern era, as evidenced by notations in ancient Chinese medicine. Cannabis can help with HIV treatment and reduce or eliminate neuropathy caused by various medical ailments.

Alcohol

Alcohol abuse has unbelievably extensive repercussions both on your physical and mental health. It affects your brain, bones, muscles, and absolutely every single organ. Infertility, cancer, behavior changes are just a couple of example alcohol overuse complications. Alcoholic neuropathy is also one of them.

Alcohol is leaching the organism of nutrients. Both malnutrition and alcohol itself cause major damage to the whole nervous system. Alcoholic neuropathy is characterized by muscle weakness and atrophy, difficulty or complete loss of movement, incontinence, swallowing and speaking problems.

Prevention or Complementing the Treatment

Preventing neuropathy is possible and the procedure is basically the same as complementing the treatment of the disease. Here are the steps of dealing with or protecting yourself from peripheral neuropathy:

Supplements

Vitamin and mineral supplements are necessary. If there is no pre-existing illness (e.g., diabetes) getting the first neuropathy symptoms is probably a cause of malnutrition. Our nervous system needs B-group vitamins, magnesium, calcium, copper, and antioxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl l-carnitine, and n-acetylcysteine.

Diet

Diet for neuropathy patients is actually quite simple — healthy food. Excluding processed food, refined grains, saturated fats from your menu, and limiting dark meat and gluten consumption will not only help you decrease the neuropathy symptoms but also maintain the widely understood good health.

Providing your daily nutrition with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and lean meat is a step in the right direction. It’s also recommended to include tofu to the diet (it contains copper, zinc, and vitamin B-1) and ginger (pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties).

Lifestyle

A responsible lifestyle is crucial to make the treatment work and to enjoy a long and healthy life. Besides quitting smoking and alcohol, systematical exercises (e.g. walking home from work or riding a bike instead of driving a car) will improve the work of your nervous system, heart, blood vessels, muscles… Physical activity quickens and improves medical treatment.

Observe your body, visit your doctor systematically, and don’t neglect any suspicious symptoms! Your life and health are priceless. Take the best care of it!

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Most Common Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy," in Medicalopedia, December 6, 2019, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8045/most-common-causes-of-peripheral-neuropathy/].