The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 20 million people suffer from some form of peripheral neuropathy in the United States. This chronic pain and loss of function are attributable to a variety of causes.

It’s helpful to have an understanding of what’s happening when you suffer from something as complex as peripheral neuropathy. Use this guide over the next few minutes to gain an understanding of what peripheral neuropathy is, the different kinds, the extent of the symptoms, and what causes it. Then call to schedule your nerve screening with the neuropathy experts at Apex Chiropractic.

Peripheral Neuropathy: What Is It?

The core nerves make up the central nervous system or CNS and the peripheral nerves, which comprise your entire nervous system. The spinal cord and brain comprise the CNS, where the peripheral nerves are the network of nerves that control all muscles, various sensations, and many bodily functions. Peripheral neuropathy refers to a condition in which this network of peripheral nerves becomes damaged, which leads to anything from minor annoyance sensations to debilitating organ dysfunction.

Peripheral neuropathy has four different stages. Numbness and pain are the common symptoms in stage one. Stage two results in constant pain. Intense pain is the hallmark sign of stage three. Stage four brings with it complete numbness or loss of sensation.

Additionally, neuropathy can involve anywhere from a single nerve to many nerves throughout your body. It’s called mononeuropathy when it’s isolated to a single nerve. Multiple mononeuropathy is when you have several damaged nerves in various areas of the body. When you have many or most of the nerves injured it’s called polyneuropathy.

Types and Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

Part of what makes peripheral neuropathy so challenging is that there are so many different types. In fact, there are hundreds of diagnosable types of the condition. However, these can boil down into three primary classes, each of which has its own symptoms.

Motor Nerve Damage

The motor nerves are those under conscious control, such as those that allow you to walk, grasp things, or even talk. Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of motor nerve neuropathy. However, you may also experience cramps, spasms, twitches, and muscle shrinking.

Sensory Nerve Damage

As the name suggests, sensory nerve damage entails damage to the nerves responsible for the various sensations throughout your body. These sensations include pressure, heat, and pain. An interruption to these senses can cause acute injury due to not properly feeling an injury and reacting to it.

The symptoms of sensory nerve neuropathy range widely depending on which types of sensory nerves have sustained damage. This may include a feeling of pressure like wearing cloves, loss of reflexes, or even the loss of the sense of position.

Autonomic Nerve Damage

The autonomic nervous system, including the autonomic nerves, regulate your automatic bodily functions. This controls everything from breathing, your heart function and digesting food, to how various glands work.

This is the most concerning form of peripheral neuropathy, being it can inhibit your basic bodily functions. Common symptoms include excessive sweating, intolerance to heat, inability to regulate your blood pressure because of blood vessels not dilating and contracting, and gastrointestinal problems.

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Just like the vast number of individual types of peripheral neuropathy, there is a multitude of possible causes. Your medical providers will work to determine which of these are the root of your particular case.


Many forms of injuries can lead to peripheral neuropathy, which is one of the most common causes of single-nerve injuries. These injuries can range from traumatic injuries like a fall, car accident, or sports injury to non-traumatic injuries such as arthritis and repetitious movements. In fact, carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of peripheral neuropathy.

Conditions and Diseases

There are a host of conditions and diseases that can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common, affecting nearly 50% of adult diabetic patients, or about 18.7 million Americans.

However, there are also autoimmune diseases that will trigger peripheral neuropathy by attacking the nerves themselves, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Some forms of cancer may also cause neuropathy. Further, some kidney and liver conditions may lead to neuropathy because of an inability to remove toxins from the body. Even some infections may cause neuropathy, like West Nile virus or herpes simplex.

Vascular and Hematologic Problems

Like all other cells in your body, your nerves depend on an adequate supply of oxygen to function properly. If your body is unable to deliver that oxygen, you may experience peripheral neuropathy. Conditions like vasculitis and atherosclerosis may trigger it, in addition to behaviors like smoking.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Your body needs the right nutritional balance to continue functioning properly, and without it can experience a whole host of problems. Peripheral Neuropathy is one such problem, and deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin E, or niacin can all trigger the symptoms. Even having too much of a good thing can cause it, such as excessive vitamin B6.


Various kinds of medications may also cause peripheral neuropathy, either directly or because they trigger one of the aforementioned causes. Some chemotherapy drugs are strong contributors, with an estimated 30% to 40% of patients taking related therapies developing some form of neuropathy, including sometimes after discontinuing the treatment. Other medications that could contribute to neuropathy include those used to treat infections, autoimmune diseases, blood pressure, seizures, HIV/AIDS, and some substance abuse medications.

Don’t continue suffering a loss of function due to peripheral neuropathy. Call to schedule your Louisville area nerve screening with the neuropathy treatment experts at Apex Chiropractic.