Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a term for a group of conditions in which the peripheral nervous system is damaged.
The peripheral nervous system is the network of nerves that lie outside the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).

  • It includes different types of nerves with their own specific functions, including:
  • Sensory nerves – responsible for transmitting sensations, such as pain and touch
  • Motor nerves – responsible for controlling muscles
  • Autonomic nerves – responsible for regulating automatic functions of the body, such as blood pressure and bladder function

Signs and symptoms

Damage to the peripheral nerves can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on the specific nerves affected.
In many cases, the condition first develops in the extremities of the body, such as the feet, hands, legs and arms.

The main symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the feet or hands
  • Burning, stabbing or shooting pain in affected areas
  • Loss of balance and co-ordination
  • Muscle weakness, especially in the feet

These symptoms are usually constant, but may fluctuate

Who is affected?

The condition becomes more common as you get older, and has been estimated to affect almost 1 in every 10 people who are 55 or over to some degree.

How peripheral neuropathy is treated

Treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on the underlying cause and the type of symptoms you are experiencing. Only some of the underlying causes of neuropathy can be treated. For example, if you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar better, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol may help.

  • Medication
  • Percutaneous interventions
  • Physiotherapy