Peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage to the feet and other extremities, has many potential causes, including alcoholism, diabetes, exposure to toxins, infections and tumors, reports Mayo Clinic. Other possible causes include vitamin deficiencies, nerve trauma, inherited disorders, reactions to medications and autoimmune diseases.
Alcoholics often make poor decisions about nutrition, which causes deficiencies in certain vitamins, explains Mayo Clinic. The B vitamins, including B1, B6 and B12, as well as niacin and vitamin E, are important for maintaining nerve health. Tumors, both benign and cancerous, can grow on nerves or can apply pressure to nerves around them. More than 50 percent of people suffering from diabetes later develop a form of neuropathy somewhere in the body. Exposure to chemicals or heavy metals can cause nerve damage as well.
Such autoimmune diseases as Guillain-Barre syndrome, Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and necrotizing vasculitis can all cause nerve damage. Chemotherapy and other medications can damage the nerves over time, as can such bacterial or viral infections as shingles, Lyme disease, leprosy, diphtheria and Epstein-Barr virus. When an injury results in impact on a nerve, the result can be severed or damaged nerves in the periphery of the body, according to Mayo Clinic.