Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Your peripheral nerves convey information throughout the body, from your central nervous system (CNS), comprising the spinal cord and brain. However, the nerves may suffer damage, referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Thus, there is an interruption in messaging between the CNS and the rest of the body. Ali H. Mesiwala, MD, FAANS, performs peripheral nerve surgery to correct a muscle movement impairment and prevent pain and unusual sensations in your legs and arms. Surgery is a last resort when first-line treatments like physical therapy and medications are ineffective.

Below are some of the causes of peripheral damage.


Too much sugar in the blood is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy. One in four people with type 1 or 2 diabetes will suffer from peripheral nerve disorders. If you have had high blood sugar for longer, you are at increased risk of nerve issues. That may be due to the high levels of glucose (sugar) in your blood, impairing the tiny vessels that convey blood and carry information to your nerves.

If you have high blood glucose, you have a higher chance of getting peripheral neuropathy if you smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and are more than 40 years old.


Nerve damage may result from a fall, road accident, sporting activity, or other activities.  Although an injury and trauma can cut your nerves, sometimes the pain may be due to the squeezing or crushing caused. Constant stress and pressure on the nerves or space reduction for the nerve lining can contribute to your disorder.

Medications and toxins

Some medicine for HIV, seizures, and destroying bacterial growth can lead to dysfunction of one or more of your nerves. Other forms of treatment, especially chemo and radiation therapy meant for treating cancerous tumors, can also disfigure nerves and cause peripheral neuritis.

Other sources of toxins, including chemicals and heavy metals like arsenic and lead, can also impair your nerve function if there is a sufficient level of exposure.


Whether cancerous or non-cancerous, tumors can develop on your nerves or adjacent to your nerves. Then, your peripheral nerves are exposed to constant exertion of pressure.

You are at a higher risk of peripheral nerve tumors if you initially benefited from radiation treatment. Also, having genetic disorders causing tumors to form on nerve tissue, referred to as neurofibromatosis, increases neuropathy risk.

Disorders inherited

One common type of hereditary neuropathy is hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy. Also called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), the disorder is notorious for weakening muscles in your hands, leg, and foot.

The Fabry illness is another potential cause of neuropathy. The disease runs in families, and when you have it, it means a particular fatty substance accumulates in your cells, leading to the narrowing of blood vessels. Therefore, there is damage to the central nervous system.

Other potential causes of nerve damage include vitamin deficiencies (Vitamins B, C, and niacin) and many illnesses such as vascular, kidney, and liver issues.

However, in some cases, the cause of peripheral neuropathy may not be easy to identify.

Contact Ali H. Mesiwala, MD, FAANS if you are struggling with peripheral neuropathy.