Peripheral Neuropathy – A Therapeutic Challenge to Neurologists

February 2021

Peripheral neuropathy is a disease that affects the peripheral nerves, which are found beyond the brain and spinal cord. Any damage to these nerves can weaken the functioning of sensation, movement, gland, or organ based on the nerves that are affected.

To be more specific, neuropathy affects the motor, sensory, or autonomic nerves present in the body. It can either be acute or chronic, besides being reversible or permanent.

Common Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Some of the common cause of this nerves disease includes:

  • Systemic diseases such as leprosy

  • Hyperglycemia-induced glycation,

  • Deficiency of vitamins

  • Medication such as commonly prescribed antibiotics (metronidazole and the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin, Avelox)

  • Traumatic injury

  • Radiation therapy

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Immune system disease

  • Coeliac disease

  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity

  • Viral infection

It can also be genetic or idiopathic. 

Cause of Peripheral Neuropathy in Diabetic Patients

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that develops in those who are diabetic. Though the exact cause of this type of neuropathy is unknown, the researchers think that neglecting the high blood sugar level leads to damage to the nerves and interrupts the ability to send signals, hence causing diabetic neuropathy. In addition, a high rise in blood sugar level can also weaken the walls of the small blood vessels known as capillaries, which functions to supply oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

Cause of Peripheral Neuropathy in Cancer Patients

A nerve-damaging side effect of antineoplastic agents in the common cancer treatment, chemotherapy results in Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. These antineoplastic agents that are used in chemotherapy are premeditated to get rid of rapidly dividing cancer cells, but they can also damage healthy structures such as the peripheral nervous system. CIPN causes suffering to about 30% and 40% of the patients who undergo chemotherapy.

Cause of Peripheral Neuropathy in HIV Patients

The HIV virus itself causes inflammation that can result in damaging the nerves. Further, the chance for neuropathy also increases, if the patient is older than 50 years and has a lot of HIV in the body. Some of the drugs that are used to treat HIV can also cause neuropathy. Some of the illnesses and infections such as herpes, tuberculosis, candidiasis, and cytomegalovirus are more common in people with HIV positive and can cause neuropathy as well.

Cause of Peripheral Neuropathy in MS (Multiple sclerosis) Patients

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve of the eyes. It can lead to problems such as lack of eye vision, change in muscle control, and other basic body functions. Patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis indicate sudomotor dysfunction and raised vibration perception, which is related to the neurological disability caused by MS. This damage can effects badly on other parts of the body.


As per a report, Peripheral neuropathy is common, especially among people who are over the age of 55. Overall, this nerve disease affects 3% to 4% of people of this age group. Also, this nerve damage affects the legs and hands of the patient. In India, the commonness of this disease varies from 5 to 2400 per 10,000 population.

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