Alternate Names : Sensorimotor Polyneuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a loss of function in the peripheral nerves. These are the nerves that branch out from the brain and spinal cord.
What is going on in the body?
Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the peripheral nerves are damaged. The damage is usually caused by a loss of myelin, which is the protective coating of the nerve. Myelin increases the speed at which information can be sent through a nerve. Direct trauma to a nerve can also cause peripheral neuropathy. The injury can block the flow of information along the nerve.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a number of factors.
Diseases that can cause the neuropathy include:
AIDS, which is caused by the HIV virus
atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries
rheumatoid arthritis, which affects many joints and other body organs
scleroderma, a disease in which the body produces antibodies against its own skin
systemic lupus erythematosus, a bodywide disease affecting many organ systems
uremia, a toxic condition caused by kidney failure
Conditions that may cause neuropathy include:
excess alcohol intake
exposure to cold or radiation
hemorrhage in the brain or spinal cord
medication side effects
smoking, which decreases the blood supply to the nerve
Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by pressure on the nerve caused by the following:
direct injury to the nerve
entrapment of the nerve
staying in one position too long
Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of peripheral neuropathy that is caused by entrapment. The median nerve is trapped between the wrist bones and a ligament. The pressure on the nerve causes loss of function in the wrist and hand.