Peripheral nerves carry information to and from the brain. They also carry signals to and from the spinal cord to the rest of the body.
Peripheral neuropathy means these nerves don't work properly. Peripheral neuropathy may be damage to a single nerve. It may be damage to a nerve group. It may also affect nerves in the whole body.
Peripheral neuritis; Neuropathy - peripheral; Neuritis - peripheral
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Nerve damage is very common. There are many types and causes. Often, no cause can be found. Some nerves diseases run in families.
Other medical problems that may cause neuropathy are:
- Autoimmune disorders rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- Chronic kidney disease
- Infections such as HIV and liver infections
- Low levels of vitamin B12 or other problems with your diet
- Poor blood flow to the legs
- Underactive thyroid gland
Drugs and toxins may damage nerves. One example is heavy alcohol use. Glue, lead, mercury, and solvents may damage nerves.
Pressure on a nerve near a body part may be a cause. An example is carpal tunnel syndrome.
A bone fracture or other trauma may damage a nerve. Being exposed to cold temperatures for a long period of time may too. Pressure from bad-fitting casts,
Review Date: 08/27/2010
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital (8/27/2010).