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Peripheral neuropathy

  • Alternative Names

    Peripheral neuritis; Neuropathy - peripheral; Neuritis - peripheral


    Treating the cause of nerve damage, if it is known, may improve your symptoms. People with diabetes should learn to control their blood sugar.

    If you use alcohol, stop. Your medicines may need to be changed. Replacing a vitamin or making other changes in your diet may help.

    You may need surgery to stop injury to a nerve.

    You may have therapy to learn exercises to get better muscle strength and control. Wheelchairs, braces, and splints may improve movement or the ability to use an arm or leg with nerve damage.


    Safety is very important for people with nerve damage. Nerve damage can increase the risk of falls and other injuries.

    Remove loose wires and rugs from areas you walk through. Do not keep small pets in your home. Fix uneven flooring in doorways.

    Have good lighting. Put handrails in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet. Place a slip-proof mat in the bathtub or shower.


    Wear shoes at all times to protect your feet from injury. Before you put them on, always check inside your shoes for stones, nails, or rough areas that may hurt your feet.

    Check your feet every day. Look at the top, sides, soles, heels, and between the toes. Wash your feet every day with lukewarm water and mild soap. Use lotion, petroleum jelly, lanolin, or oil on dry skin.

    Check bathwater temperature with your elbow before putting your feet in the water.

    Avoid putting pressure on areas with nerve damage for too long.


    Medicines may help reduce pain in the feet, legs, and arms. They usually do not bring back loss of feeling.

    You may take pain pills. Medicines used to treat other medical problems, such as seizures or depression, can also help manage the pain. Use the lowest dose possible to avoid side effects.

    Your doctor may refer you to a pain specialist. Talk therapy may help you better understand how your pain is affecting your life. It can also help you learn ways to better cope with pain.


    Wearing elastic stockings may help treat low blood pressure and fainting. So can sleeping with your head elevated. Some medicines may also help.

    Your health care provider may give you medicines to help with problems going to the bathroom. Eating small frequent meals may help.

    There are ways to help bladder problems. You can learn exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You may need to use a thin tube that is inserted into your bladder (urinary catheter). You may take medicines.

    Medicines can often help with erection problems.

    Support Groups

    You can find support group information from The Neuropathy Association - www.neuropathy.org

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome depends on the cause of nerve damage. When a medical condition can be found and treated, your outlook may be excellent. But, in severe neuropathy, nerve damage can be permanent, even if the cause is treated.

    Chronic pain can be a major problem for some patients. Those with numbness in the feet can get skin sores that do not heal. They are also at risk for joint deformities. Rarely, numbness in the feet may lead to amputation.

    For most neuropathies passed down in families, there is no cure. Some of these problems do not interfere with daily life. Others get worse quickly and may lead to long-term, severe symptoms and problems.

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of nerve damage. Early treatment increases the chance of controlling symptoms and preventing more problems.