Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves that transmit information between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness, tingling, burning pain, sensitivity to touch or muscle weakness. Peripheral neuropathy often affects the hands and/or feet, causing numbness or pain. This can make normal tasks such as buttoning a shirt or climbing a ladder difficult. For more information, go to:
Peripheral neuropathy has many causes. Radiation and certain types of chemotherapy, such as vincristine, cisplatin, paclitaxel and etoposide are known risk factors. Other drugs such as Thalidomide are also known to cause peripheral neuropathy. Damage to nerves from a herpes zoster (shingles) infection is another frequent cause. In other cases, peripheral neuropathy may be inherited, or caused by injury or other disease processes. For more information, go to:
In some cases, peripheral neuropathy gradually decreases or even goes away completely over a number of months after treatment. However, in other cases the damage done to the nerves may be permanent. Each case is individual. For more information, go to:
Drug treatment may help patients with pain caused by peripheral neuropathy. In addition to standard pain-relieving drugs, anticonvulsants such as Neurontin (gabapentin) or Lyrica (pregabalin), and tricyclic antidepressants such as Cymbalta (duloxetine) may be helpful.
Some patients may require safety measures if numbness makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Walking with a cane or using handrails may help patients with numb feet avoid falls, while wearing gloves may help those with numb hands avoid injury. For more information, go to: