Peripheral Neuropathy Information Page
Condensed from Peripheral
Neuropathy Fact Sheet
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Is there any treatment?
What is the prognosis?
What research is being
Related NINDS Publications and
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What is Peripheral
neuropathy describes damage to the peripheral nervous system,
which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to
every other part of the body.
than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified,
each with its own characteristic set of symptoms, pattern of
development, and prognosis. Impaired function and symptoms
depend on the type of nerves -- motor, sensory, or autonomic --
that are damaged. Some people may experience temporary
numbness, tingling, and pricking sensations, 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. Peripheral
neuropathy may be either inherited or acquired. Causes of
acquired peripheral neuropathy include physical injury (trauma)
to a nerve, tumors, toxins, autoimmune responses, nutritional
deficiencies, alcoholism, and vascular and metabolic disorders.
Acquired peripheral neuropathies are caused by systemic disease,
trauma from external agents, or infections or autoimmune
disorders affecting nerve tissue. Inherited forms of peripheral
neuropathy are caused by inborn mistakes in the genetic code or
by new genetic mutations.
there any treatment?
medical treatments exist that can cure inherited peripheral
neuropathy. However, there are therapies for many other forms.
In general, adopting healthy habits -- such as maintaining
optimal weight, avoiding exposure to toxins, following a
physician-supervised exercise program, eating a balanced diet,
correcting vitamin deficiencies, and limiting or avoiding
alcohol consumption -- can reduce the physical and emotional
effects of peripheral neuropathy. Systemic diseases
frequently require more complex treatments.
is the prognosis?
acute neuropathies, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, symptoms
appear suddenly, progress rapidly, and resolve slowly as
damaged nerves heal. In chronic forms, symptoms begin subtly
and progress slowly. Some people may have periods of relief
followed by relapse. Others may reach a plateau stage where
symptoms stay the same for many months or years. Some chronic
neuropathies worsen over time, but very few forms prove fatal
unless complicated by other diseases. Occasionally the
neuropathy is a symptom of another disorder.
research is being done?
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
conduct research related to peripheral neuropathies in
laboratories at the NIH and also support additional research
through grants to major medical institutions across the
country. Current research projects funded by the NINDS
involve investigations of genetic factors associated with
hereditary neuropathies, studies of biological mechanisms
involved in diabetes-associated neuropathies, and
investigations exploring how the immune system contributes to
peripheral nerve damage. Neuropathic pain is a primary
target of NINDS-sponsored studies aimed at developing more
effective therapies for symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Some scientists hope to identify substances that will block
the brain chemicals that generate pain signals, while others
are investigating the pathways by which pain signals reach the
this link to view a list of studies currently seeking
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