Peripheral neuropathy is damage of the peripheral nerves. Your peripheral nerves are the nerves that travel to your arms and legs. When the nerves are damaged, they don’t function properly. People with peripheral neuropathy have decreased or abnormal sensation in their toes and fingers. Sometimes, they develop problems moving these parts of the body as well.
In the United States, the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes will develop neuropathy within their lifetime.
Other causes of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Certain medications, including some chemotherapy drugs.
- Heredity. Some people have a family history of peripheral neuropathy.
- Advanced age. Peripheral neuropathy is more common as people age.
- Arthritis. Certain type of arthritis, especially involving the back, can cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Alcoholism. According to the US National Library of Medicine, up to half of all long-term heavy alcohol users develop peripheral neuropathy.
- Neurological disorders. Certain neurological disorders, including spina bifida and fibromyalgia, are associated with peripheral neuropathy.
- Injury. Acute injury to the peripheral nerves may also cause peripheral neuropathy.