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HealthInfo Canterbury

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy means there's damage to some of the nerves outside your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord). Different things can cause peripheral neuropathy, but diabetes is one of the most common causes.

A deficiency in an important vitamin called B12, which is found in animal food products (meat, eggs and dairy), can also cause this. Sometimes B12 deficiency can develop in people on vegan diets.

Excessive or heavy alcohol intake, particularly over a long time, can also cause peripheral neuropathy. Often a cause is not found.

Symptoms include numb or tingling feet or hands, stabbing or burning pain in the affected area, muscle weakness, and loss of balance and coordination. Treating peripheral neuropathy involves first determining the cause and correcting that if possible.

Because usual pain relief medicines don't usually work with nerve pain, peripheral neuropathy may be treated with amitriptyline, gabapentin, nortriptyline, carbamazepine, or sodium valproate.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2019.

See also:

Diabetic neuropathy

Page reference: 192269

Review key: HIPNE-192269