Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is damage to the peripheral nervous system. Neuropathy is a complication of a number of different underlying conditions including physical trauma, repetitive injury, infection and metabolic problems. It often causes pain, weakness and numbness, usually in hands and feet but can be in other areas of the body.
Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of the metabolic disorder diabetes. Over a number of years, the excess blood glucose in people with diabetes can injure the walls of tiny blood vessels supplying nerves, especially those in the legs. While diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy, other medical conditions that can also lead to neuropathy include:
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Cancer – lymphoma or multiple myeloma
- Lyme disease, a tick-borne bacterial infection
- Long-term excessive alcohol intake
- Vitamin B deficiency and other nutritional deficiency
- HIV infection and AIDS
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
One goal of treatment is to manage the condition causing the neuropathy. If the underlying cause is corrected, the neuropathy often improves on its own. Another goal of treatment is to relieve the painful symptoms.