Causes of Neuropathy
To simplify the understanding of the different causes of neuropathy we could divide the different causes into two classes. One category causes damage to all of the nerves of the body, this is called a polyneuropathy. The second class affects one or more nerves at a time which is called a mononeuropathy.
Generally this type of neuropathy is caused by a systemic illness. Some of the diseases include liver and kidney disease, diabetes, certain medicines or toxic substances, nutritional and vitamin deficiencies, infections like AIDS, and syphilis. There is also another class which is part of autoimmune diseases where the body attacks its own nerves. If this occurs acutely then the illness is called Guillain-Barré and if it becomes chronic then it is called CIDP.
In polyneuropathy the symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and weakness generally occur in the feet first and they gradually ascend to involve other parts of the body. The severity varies. Some patients are severely affected and they could become completely paralyzed and numb. Others have a slow progression with mild symptoms. They could have mild numbness, burning, and tingling of the feet or just have a little bit of weakness in their feet. These patients often complain of difficulty with walking. They develop poor balance and cannot walk for long periods of time.
Also see CIDP
In this type generally one nerve is affected. The different causes of mononeuropathy include local compression, direct trauma, penetrating injuries, contusions, fracture or dislocation, pressure from a tumor, local hemorrhage, and exposure to cold, or radiation. The symptoms occur in the regions that are controlled by that nerve. For example if a nerve in the hand is injured then the hand could develop numbness, tingling, and burning. The fingers and the hand could get weak and possibly paralyzed. A classic example of this category is called carpal tunnel syndrome. (Also see Hand Tingling)
It is caused by damage of on one of the nerves called the median nerve. The median nerve is damaged by the pressure that is placed on it as it travels across the wrist from repetitive motion of the hands. The patient often complains of numbness and tingling in the hands especially at night time. In this category of neuropathy other nerves of the body could also develop this problem.