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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Peripheral neuropathy

Whakamōtī akaaka mōwaho

Peripheral neuropathy means there is damage to some of the nerves around your body that aren't part of your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord).

There are different types or peripheral nerves:

There are several causes of peripheral neuropathy, with diabetes being the commonest. Other causes include Vitamin B12 deficiency and heavy alcohol intake, particularly over a long time. But often no cause is found.

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy

These vary depending on the type of nerve involved and which part of your body is affected.

Sensory neuropathy can cause a feeling of numbness, tingling, or pins and needles.

It may also cause burning pains in your legs (especially in bed at night), shooting pains and being over-sensitivity to even the slight touch.

Motor neuropathy might cause weak muscles, especially in your legs. It can alter the shape of your feet and cause problems with shoes. Both of these might lead to problems with walking.

Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that control internal organs. The symptoms depend on where the problem lies.

You could have:

Treating peripheral neuropathy

Treating peripheral neuropathy involves first finding the cause and correcting that if possible.

Because normal pain relief medicines do not usually work with nerve pain, peripheral neuropathy may be treated with other types of medicines, including amitriptyline, gabapentin, nortriptyline, carbamazepine and sodium valproate.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2022.

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Page reference: 192269

Review key: HIPNE-192269