Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness of the feet, legs, arms and hands; sharp pain; and sensitivity to touch, according to Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms include an absence of coordination, falling down, muscle weakness and paralysis. If autonomic nerves are affected, symptoms include heat intolerance, digestive problems and dizziness.
Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves that send and receive signals from the brain and spinal cord become damaged or diseased and disrupt communication of the signals to the body, explains WebMD. The disruption can cause pain, affect muscle movement and hinder sensation in the body. The condition is fairly common among people age 55 and older, with 3 to 4 percent being affected. Common examples of peripheral neuropathy include carpal tunnel syndrome or diabetes-induced nerve damage.
Many factors cause peripheral neuropathy, such as alcoholism, inherited diseases, vitamin deficiencies and certain medications, notes WebMD. Other causes include diabetes, poor eating habits, certain infections and kidney disease. In some cases no known cause exists.
Treatment options vary depending on the scope and severity of the condition, but the focus is to manage and relieve symptom-causing conditions, notes Mayo Clinic. Some treatment options include medications, such as pain relievers, anti-seizure medications and antidepressants. Therapies such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin and physical therapy also help relieve symptoms. In some cases surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves may be necessary.