Condition: Neuropathy

Neuropathy is a general term that refers to disease or impairment of nerves. Nerve damage can result from injury or disease and can occur anywhere in the body. As a result, neuropathies are categorised in one of two ways: either (a) along the lines of the types/location of the nerves affected, or (b) according to the disease which causes the damage (for instance, diabetic neuropathy).

The wikipedia entry for neoropathic pain states the following:

Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage or disease that affects the somatosensory system. It may be associated with abnormal sensations called dysesthesia, and pain produced by normally non-painful stimuli (allodynia). Neuropathic pain may have continuous and/or episodic (paroxysmal) components. The latter are likened to an electric shock. Common qualities include burning or coldness, "pins and needles" sensations, numbness and itching. Nociceptive pain, by contrast, is more commonly described as aching.

Food damage from diabetic neuropathy

Nerve damage can result from disease, injury, infection, or vitamin deficiency; the most common causes include:

  • Diabetes (the most common condition associated with neuropathy);
  • Vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamins B12, folate, and other B vitamins);
  • Autoimmune issues (especially rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, and Guillain-Barre syndrome);
  • Infection (including HIV/AIDS, Lyme disease, leprosy, and syphilis);
  • Post-herpetic neuralgia (a complication of shingles);
  • Alcoholism;
  • Genetic or inherited disorders (such as Friedreich's ataxia and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease);
  • Amyloidosis;
  • Uremia (high concentrations of waste products in the blood due to kidney failure);
  • Toxins and poisons (for instance gold compounds, lead, arsenic, mercury, industrial solvents, nitrous oxide, and organophosphate pesticides);
  • Drugs or medication, especially cancer therapy drugs like vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar) or antibiotics like metronidazole (Flagyl) and isoniazid (Nydrazid, Laniazid);
  • Trauma/Injury;
  • Decreased blood flow (ischemia) to nerves;
  • Tumors (either benign or malignant);
  • Idiopathic (a neuropathy for which no cause has been established);

Pain occuring as a result of peripheral neuropathy is often described as a tingling, a numbness, or a burning sensation. While the pain can persist, symptoms often improve over time (especially if the neuropathy is the result of an underlying condition that can be treated).