Peripheral neuropathy - Definition

Ask a question


Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage of the nerves that make up the peripheral nervous system, consisting of many nerves that run throughout the body. The peripheral nervous system differs from the central nervous system, in that this latter is comprised of neurons located in the brain and spinal cord. There are a great number of different neuropathies, which can affect one or many nerves.


Mononeuropathy is where only one nerve is affected, polyneuropathy when several are successively damaged, polyneuritis where many nerves are simultaneously damaged at their ends, and polyradiculitis defines damage of nerve roots that emerge from the spinal column.


The underlying causes of neuropathy are also many and varied, including genetic disease, cancerous tumor, inflammation, alcoholism, diabetes, and so on.


Symptoms of peripheral nerve damage differ depending on the type of nerve affected. Damage of motor nerves that control muscular contraction leads to mobility difficulties, even paralysis, while damage to a sensory nerve will induce pins and needles or a loss of sensitivity in the innervated area. Treatment is designed depending on the type of neuropathy.