Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system, the communication network between the central nervous system and every other part of the body. The peripheral nerves communicate signals from the brain to muscles, skin and internal organs and sensory information from those areas back to the brain.  Damage to these nerves can cause them to respond spontaneously. It is estimated that some 20 million people in the United States have some form of peripheral neuropathy with very few forms that are fatal. The condition can be either inherited or acquired through disease processes or trauma. In many cases, however, a specific cause cannot be identified.

Symptoms range from numbness or tingling, to pricking sensations and/or muscle weakness, and can last from a few days or months to years. Severe symptoms may include burning pain (especially at night), muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ and gland dysfunction. Damage to nerves that supply internal organs may impair digestion, sweating, sexual function, and urination. In the most extreme cases, breathing may become difficult, or organ failure may occur.

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