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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Peripheral Neuropathy
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Peripheral Neuropathy

Alternate Names : Sensorimotor Polyneuropathy

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

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
  • diabetes
  • 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
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • smoking, which decreases the blood supply to the nerve
  • Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by pressure on the nerve caused by the following:

  • bone fractures
  • 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.


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    Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 05/04/01

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