What Are The Causes Of Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is nerve damage.   It creates nerve pain.  When the nerve breaks down due to disease, chemical toxins, trauma, etc., the myelin sheath begins to break down.    This creates a short circuit similar to what happens when a wire loses its insulating cover.   The damage can continue and the symptoms of this damage will get worse. 

What causes it?  Here is a list of causes………………

Alcoholism – Thiamine (B1) deficiency, in particular, is common among people with alcoholism because they often also have poor dietary habits. Thiamine deficiency can cause a painful neuropathy of the extremities. Some researchers believe that excessive alcohol consumption may, in itself, contribute directly to nerve damage, a condition referred to as alcoholic neuropathy.

Amyloidosis (metabolic disorder) an disorder where a protein called amyloid is deposited in tissues and organs. Amyloidosis can affect peripheral sensory, motor or autonomic nerves and deposition of amyloid lead to degeneration and dysfunction in these nerves.

Anemia – See Vitamin Deficiencies. A diet that lacks iron, folic acid (folate), or vitamin B12 can prevent your body from making enough red blood cells. A deficiency of iron can effect nerve conduction. A lack of B12 damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protect nerves. Without this protection, nerves cease to function properly and conditions such as peripheral neuropathy occur. Even B12 deficiency that is relatively mild may affect the nervous system and the proper functioning of the brain. The nerve damage caused by a lack of B12 may become permanently debilitating, if the underlying condition is not treated.

Autoimmune disorders: Viral and bacterial infections can also cause indirect nerve damage by provoking conditions referred to as autoimmune disorders, in which specialized cells and antibodies of the immune system attack the body’s own tissues. These attacks typically cause destruction of the nerve’s myelin sheath or axon (the long fiber that extends out from the main nerve cell body).

Bacterial Diseases - Lyme disease, diphtheria, and leprosy are bacterial diseases characterized by extensive peripheral nerve damage. Diphtheria and leprosy are now rare in the United States, but Lyme disease is on the rise. It can cause a wide range of neuropathic disorders, including a rapidly developing, painful polyneuropathy, often within a few weeks after initial infection by a tick bite. See autoimmune responses.

Bariatric Surgery – postoperative nerve damage also known as peripheral neuropathy (PN)   Nutritional deficiencies can occur following this procedure due to patients experiencing more weight loss than expected and post operative complications.

Bell’s Palsy – Bell’s palsy results from upper respiratory infections, viral infections such as those caused by infectious mononucleosis, herpes, mumps, HIV viruses, and bacterial infections such as Lyme Disease. Facial weakness from Bell’s palsy is due to the facial nerve which is a nerve that controls the muscles on the side of the face and it a form of peripheral neuropathy.

Cancer – a tumor can press on a nerve or entrap a nerve and cause damage.  See Compression neuropathy

Cancer treatments See Chemotherapy treatments and Radiation Therapy below.

Carpal tunnel syndrome – Carpus comes from the Greek word for wrist. The wrist is surrounded by a band of fibrous tissue that normally functions as a support for the joint. The tight space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel to receive sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the hand. Any condition that causes swelling or a change in position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel can squeeze and irritate the median nerve. Irritation of the median nerve in this manner causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers, a condition known as “carpal tunnel syndrome.” Thus, it can cause nerve damage.

Charcot Marie-Tooth disease – See Inherited neuropathy

Chemotherapy Treatment – Chemotherapy drugs are poisons that attack fast growing cells (rapidly dividing cells).  The theory behind using these toxins is that it will destroy the fast growing cancer cells before it does much damage to normal cells.  Chemotherapy is hardest on the nervous system due to the fact that nerve cells are more sensitive than other cells.

Chronic kidney failure – Chronic kidney or renal failure (uremia) occurs when the kidneys gradually fail to function properly. When the kidneys are impaired, fluids and waste products accumulate in the body. In some cases, kidney failure can cause peripheral neuropathy. Many conditions can cause kidney failure; the most common are diabetes and high blood pressure.

Compression neuropathy – pressure on an area. It is an inability to transmit nerve impulses because compression has damaged nerve fibers either directly, or indirectly by restricting their supply of oxygen. Compression can come from herniated discs in the spine, osteoarthritis can cause bone spurs that can compress a nerve, severe muscle injuries can compress nerves, and even prolonged use of tight clothing such as shoes. It all depends on the nerve compressed.

Connective tissue disease (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis) Connective tissue disorders and chronic inflammation can cause direct and indirect nerve damage. When the multiple layers of protective tissue surrounding nerves become inflamed, the inflammation can spread directly into nerve fibers. Chronic inflammation also leads to the progressive destruction of connective tissue, making nerve fibers more vulnerable to compression injuries and infections. Joints can become inflamed and swollen and entrap nerves, causing pain.

Diabetes mellitus – the higher than normal sugar levels create nerve damage. Chronic neuropathy can start when the nerves are deprived of oxygen or anoxia.

Diphtheria – See Bacterial Diseases

Drugs – Certain anticancer drugs, anticonvulsants, antiviral agents, and antibiotics have side effects that can include peripheral nerve damage, thus limiting their long-term use. Metformin is a drug associated with B12 deficiency and thus nerve damage.   To check on any medications and if they cause nerve damage, go to drugs.com or rxlist.com   Note: neuropathy can be defined as nerve pain, parenthesia, tingling and numbness..etc. 

Epstein-Barr virus - See Infections

Foods that are toxic – Some foods and food additives have a direct toxic effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Food allergies and intolerance can create nerve pain – neuropathy. MSG is known to cause nerve damage.

Herniated disc – most compressed nerves will cause inflammation but will get better. This is more likely to cause problems when the nerve is squashed between the disc and an adjacent bone.

Herpes – see Infections

HIV/AIDS – The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, also causes extensive damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The virus can cause several different forms of neuropathy, each strongly associated with a specific stage of active immunodeficiency disease. A rapidly progressive, painful polyneuropathy affecting the feet and hands is often the first clinically apparent sign of HIV infection.

Hormonal imbalances – can disturb normal metabolic processes and cause neuropathies. For example, an underproduction of thyroid hormones slows metabolism, leading to fluid retention and swollen tissues that can exert pressure on peripheral nerves. Overproduction of growth hormone can lead to acromegaly, a condition characterized by the abnormal enlargement of many parts of the skeleton, including the joints. Nerves running through these affected joints often become entrapped.

Idiopathic – when doctors cannot find a specific cause

Immune System – See Inflammation

Inflammation – Chronic inflammation also leads to the progressive destruction of connective tissue, making nerve fibers more vulnerable to compression injuries and infections. Joints can become inflamed and swollen and entrap nerves, causing pain.

Some neuropathies are caused by inflammation resulting from immune system activities rather than from direct damage by infectious organisms. Inflammatory neuropathies can develop quickly or slowly, and chronic forms can exhibit a pattern of alternating remission and relapse. Acute inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy, better known as Guillain-Barré syndrome, can damage motor, sensory, and autonomic nerve fibers. Most people recover from this syndrome although severe cases can be life threatening. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), generally less dangerous, usually damages sensory and motor nerves, leaving autonomic nerves intact. Multifocal motor neuropathy is a form of inflammatory neuropathy that affects motor nerves exclusively; it may be chronic or acute.

Infectious disease (e.g., Lyme disease, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, leprosy)  Infections and autoimmune disorders can cause peripheral neuropathy. Viruses and bacteria that can attack nerve tissues include herpes varicella-zoster (shingles), Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex-members of the large family of human herpes viruses. These viruses severely damage sensory nerves, causing attacks of sharp, lightning-like pain. Postherpetic neuralgia often occurs after an attack of shingles and can be particularly painful.

Inherited forms of peripheral neuropathy are caused by inborn mistakes in the genetic code or by new genetic mutations. Some genetic errors lead to mild neuropathies with symptoms that begin in early adulthood and result in little, if any, significant impairment. More severe hereditary neuropathies often appear in infancy or childhood.

The most common inherited neuropathies are a group of disorders collectively referred to as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. These neuropathies result from flaws in genes responsible for manufacturing neurons or the myelin sheath. Hallmarks of typical Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease include extreme weakening and wasting of muscles in the lower legs and feet, gait abnormalities, loss of tendon reflexes, and numbness in the lower limbs.

The sad fact is that after a while this misfiring of the nerves can get so bad that people are unable to walk or pick things up and can get to a point where they would rather have a limb amputated then continue with this nerve pain.

Kidney Disease – can lead to abnormally high amounts of toxic substances in the blood that can severely damage nerve tissue. A majority of patients who require dialysis because of kidney failure develop polyneuropathy. Some liver diseases also lead to neuropathies as a result of chemical imbalances.

Leprosy – In all patients with leprosy, the nerve tissue is involved. The dermal nerves are infected in all skin lesions.

Liver failure –  liver disease may be associated with sensory-motor demyelinating polyneuropathy

Lupus, See Connective Tissue Diseases

Lyme Disease – See Bacterial Infection

Many Medications (such as Lyrica, Cymbalta, Duloxetine hydrochloride, Pregabalin, and more have neuropathy as a side effect, if may be listed under paresthenia, or tingling and numbness.  .

Metabolic Disorders – caused by a disruption of the chemical processes in the body. In some cases, nerve damage is caused by the inability to properly use energy in the body. In other cases, dangerous substances (toxins) build up in the body and damage nerves. Some metabolic disorders are pass down through families (inherited), while others are develop due to various diseases.

Multiple Sclerosis – During periods of multiple sclerosis activity, white blood cells are drawn to regions of the white matter. These initiate and take part in what is known as the inflammatory response.  The resulting inflammation is similar to what happens in your skin when you get a pimple.  During the inflammation, the myelin gets stripped from the axons in a process known as demyelination.

Nutritional Deficiencies – see vitamin deficiencies

Pressure on a nerve – see compression neuropathy

Radiation Treatment - effects may be delayed for many years, the radiation can injury the nerves.

Radiculopathy is a condition due to a compressed nerve in the spine that can cause pain.  See compression neuropathy

Repetitive stress – frequently leads to entrapment neuropathies, a special category of compression injury.  Cumulative damage can result from repetitive, forceful, awkward activities that require flexing of any group of joints for prolonged periods. The resulting irritation may cause ligaments, tendons, and muscles to become inflamed and swollen, constricting the narrow passageways through which some nerves pass.

Rheumatoid Athritis – See Connective Tissue Disease

Sarcoidosis – See Connective tissue diseases

Shingles – See Infections Disease

Statin Drugs – designed to block cholesterol, the cells need cholesterol to build the myelin sheath, this can cause the nerve damage.

Swollen blood vessels – see compression neuropathy

Surgeries that damage a nerve

Systemic Diseases – disorders that affect the entire body —often cause peripheral neuropathy. These disorders may include: Metabolic and endocrine disorders. Nerve tissues are highly vulnerable to damage from diseases that impair the body’s ability to transform nutrients into energy, process waste products, or manufacture the substances that make up living tissue. Diabetes mellitus, characterized by chronically high blood glucose levels, is a leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United States. About 60 percent to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage.

Toxins - can cause peripheral nerve damage. People who are exposed to heavy metals (arsenic, lead, mercury, thallium), industrial drugs, or environmental toxins frequently develop neuropathy.

Trauma – Physical Injuries – is the most common cause of injury to a nerve. Injury or sudden trauma, such as from automobile accidents, falls, and sports-related activities, can cause nerves to be partially or completely severed, crushed, compressed, or stretched, sometimes so forcefully that they are partially or completely detached from the spinal cord. Broken or dislocated bones can exert damaging pressure on neighboring nerves, and slipped disks between vertebrae can compress nerve fibers where they emerge from the spinal cord.

Tumors causing pressure on a nerve – Cancers and benign tumors can infiltrate or exert damaging pressure on nerve fibers. Tumors also can arise directly from nerve tissue cells.  See compression neuropathy.

Vascular damage and blood diseases can decrease oxygen supply to the peripheral nerves and quickly lead to serious damage to or death of nerve tissues, much as a sudden lack of oxygen to the brain can cause a stroke. Diabetes frequently leads to blood vessel constriction. Various forms of vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation) frequently cause vessel walls to harden, thicken, and develop scar tissue, decreasing their diameter and impeding blood flow. This category of nerve damage, in which isolated nerves in different areas are damaged, is called mononeuropathy multiplex or multifocal mononeuropathy.

Viral Infection - See Infections above.

Viral and bacterial infections can also cause indirect nerve damage by provoking conditions referred to as autoimmune disorders, in which specialized cells and antibodies of the immune system attack the body’s own tissues. These attacks typically cause destruction of the nerve’s myelin sheath or axon (the long fiber that extends out from the main nerve cell body).

Vitamin deficiencies (e.g., pernicious anemia, etc.) can cause widespread damage to nerve tissue. Vitamins E, B1, B6, B12, and niacin are essential to healthy nerve function. See also alcoholic neuropathy. A lack of B12 damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protect nerves. Without this protection, nerves cease to function properly and conditions such as peripheral neuropathy occur. Even B12 deficiency that is relatively mild may affect the nervous system and the proper functioning of the brain. The nerve damage caused by a lack of B12 may become permanently debilitating, if the underlying condition is not treated.

Zinc induced copper deficiency (denture adhesive creams)  These adhesive creams have a large amount of zinc in them which can induce a copper deficiency and then nerve damage.   See vitamin deficiencies.

Chris Daino is the Founder of McVitamins – How to Survive a Fast Food Lifestyle. Concerned with the amount of degenerative diseases and other illnesses that occur due to nutritional deficiencies caused by faulty diet, she created mcvitamins.com in 1999. http://www.mcvitamins.com She continually researches information and nutritional supplements to help solve these problems.  For neuropathy information www.mcvitamins.com/neuropathy.htm


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3 Responses to What Are The Causes Of Neuropathy?

  1. Olen Losser says:

    Oh dear oh dear. No vaccine is 100% safe, nor 100% effective. Companies settle because they accept that. Vaccines are given because herd immunity protects the majority. Vaccination occurs when the overall beneft significantly outweighs the overall risk. This is not rocket science. Finally, what a fascinating list of medical commentary at the top. The whole point of vaccination is to stimulate an immune response.

  2. Edward Conrow says:

    I have never been so ashamed to be a science teacher in my entire life. How can there be so many scientifically and mathematically ignorant people in what are supposed to be advanced industrialized nation. There is NO, I repeat NO causational link between vaccinations and GBS or autism. There is a correlation between vaccinations and GBS or autism which amounts to approximately a 1 in a million increase in the probability that either disease could occur if in fact the vaccination actually causes either disease. However in almost all cases correlation does NOT mean causation. If it did then churchs would cause crime since almost all areas in which there is high density of churchs also have higher crime rates. However if we assume the very worst case scenario in which vaccinations cause either GBR or autism you are still 1000 times more likely to die of the seasonal flu than you are to contract GBR or autism from a vaccination. Get a grip people or better yet an education!

  3. Chad Bush says:

    Churchs, huh? Well, I guess science does not require one to be able to spell such a simple word as churches. After all, churchs is not a proper word. “Church’s” would be a possessive and “churches” would be plural. Just out of curiosity, did you happen to ignore the red squiggly lines indicating you did not spell the word properly? Yet we are to assume your ability to teach high school science qualifies your opinion as authoritative? I see some flaws here. How could anyone sum up the whole of the matter in a paragraph and assume it should stand as authoritative? It is nothing new from the “scientific” community either way. If people actually were scientifically informed then they would be appalled at many things the scientific community pushes on them in everyday life. Do your own research as there are many good points from both sides which merit examination.

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