Peripheral Neuropathy is the medical term for damage to nerves
of the peripheral nervous system, which may be caused either by diseases of the
nerve or from the side-effects of systemic illness. Peripheral neuropathies vary
in their presentation and origin, and may affect the nerve or the neuromuscular
Major causes of peripheral neuropathy include diabetes mellitus, nutritional
deficiencies, alcoholism and HIV.
Mechanical pressure from staying in one position for too long, a tumor,
intraneural hemorrhage, exposing the body to extreme conditions such as
radiation, cold temperatures, or toxic substances (including some chemotherapy
drugs such as vincristine) can also cause peripheral neuropathy.
Many of the diseases of the peripheral nervous system may present similarly to
muscle problems (myopathies), and so it is important to develop approaches for
assessing sensory and motor disturbances in patients so that a physician may
make an accurate diagnosis.