What causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Causes of acquired peripheral neuropathy include:
Diseases or Disorders
Metabolic and endocrine disorders impair the body’s ability to transform nutrients into energy and process waste products, and this can lead to nerve damage. Diabetes is a leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United States. Diabetics with chronically high blood glucose levels have a 60 to 70 percent chance of developing mild to severe sensory, motor, and autonomic nerve damage. Some metabolic liver diseases also lead to neuropathies as a result of chemical imbalances. Endocrine disorders that lead to hormonal imbalances can disturb normal metabolic processes and cause neuropathies.
Small vessel disease can decrease oxygen supply to the peripheral nerves and lead to serious nerve tissue damage. Diabetes frequently leads to impaired blood flow to nerves. Various forms of vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation) frequently cause vessel walls to harden, thicken, and develop scar tissue, decreasing their diameter and impeding blood flow. The American Diabetes Association noted in a definitive 2017 review. One thing is certain: The conventional wisdom that high blood sugar is the cause of nerve damage is only part of the story. New research is revealing a bigger cast of culprits. These include high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.
Autoimmune diseases , in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, can lead to nerve damage.
Kidney disorders may cause neuropathies. Kidney dysfunction can lead to abnormally high amounts of toxic substances in the blood that can damage nerve tissue.
Cancers can infiltrate nerve fibers or exert damaging compression forces on nerve fibers causing neuropathy symptoms.
Injury or sudden trauma such as from automobile accidents, falls, sports-related activities, and surgical procedures can cause nerves to be partially or completely severed, crushed, compressed, or stretched, sometimes so forcefully that they are partially or completely detached from the spinal cord. Less severe traumas also can cause serious nerve damage. Broken or dislocated bones can exert damaging pressure on neighboring nerves.
Repetitive stress frequently leads to entrapment neuropathies, a form of compression injury. Cumulative damage can result from repetitive, awkward, and/or forceful activities that require movement of any group of joints for prolonged periods. The resulting irritation may cause ligaments, tendons, and muscles to become inflamed and swollen, constricting the narrow passageways through which some nerves pass.
Exposure to Toxins
Medication toxicity can be caused by many agents in addition to those for fighting cancer. Other agents that commonly cause peripheral neuropathy as a side effect include those used to fight infection such as antiretroviral agents for treating HIV. In addition, anticonvulsant agents and some heart and blood pressure medications can commonly cause peripheral neuropathy.
Environmental or industrial toxins such as lead, mercury, and arsenic can cause peripheral neuropathy. In addition, certain insecticides and solvents have also been known to cause neuropathies.
Heavy alcohol consumption is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy. Damage to the nerves associated with long-term alcohol abuse may not be reversible when a person stops drinking alcohol, however, doing so may provide some symptom relief and prevent further damage.*