Peripheral neuropathy is a damage to the peripheral nerves, the vast communications network that transmits information from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to every other part of the body. Peripheral nerves also send sensory information back to the brain and spinal cord, such as a message that the feet are cold or a finger is burned. Some people may experience temporary numbness, tingling, and pricking sensations (paresthesia), sensitivity to touch, or muscle weakness. Others may suffer more extreme symptoms, including burning pain (especially at night), muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction. People may become unable to digest food easily, maintain safe levels of blood pressure, sweat normally, or experience normal sexual function. In the most extreme cases, breathing may become difficult or organ failure may occur
Some common disorders like diabetes mellitus frequently involve damage to the peripheral nerves.
Peripheral polyneuropathy requires laboratory work up and nerve conduction studies and electromyography testing. MRI imaging can be done to rule out other disorders of the nervous system presenting with similar symptoms.
Information resources recommended:
- Neuropathy Association
- 60 East 42nd Street, Suite 942
- New York, NY 10165-0999
- 888-PN-FACTS (888-763-2287)
- Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
- 485 Half Day Road, Suite 200
- Buffalo Grove, IL 60089
- 800-HURTFUL (487-8385)
- American Diabetes Association
- 1701 North Beauregard Street
- Alexandria, VA 22311
- 800-DIABETES (342-2383)