What Causes Neuropathy?

Neuropathy refers to nerve damage, and depending on which nerves are damaged, you may experience pain, numbness, tingling, and burning sensations. Rehabilitation and physical therapy here at Premier Chiropractic can help treat and alleviate the symptoms of neuropathy.

However, because many cases of neuropathy are acquired 一 meaning that they’re not genetic 一 it’s important to identify the potential causes of neuropathy so you can manage those conditions, too.

What Causes Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage in any nerve that’s outside of your central nervous system. Your peripheral nervous system can be broken down into two categories: autonomic (nerves related to actions you don’t have to think about such as breathing) and somatic (nerves that control actions you think about such as moving).

When these nerves are damaged, it can affect your senses, your movement, and even some automatic body processes. What damages your nerves can vary quite a bit. Trauma, injuries, and underlying conditions are the main culprits.

Physical trauma that causes nerve damage

Physical trauma from an accident or injury can contribute to your neuropathy symptoms. Anything that compresses, stretches, or crushes your nerves can damage them. Examples include:

  • Car accidents
  • Sports accidents
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (a type of neuropathy caused by wrist overuse)

Note: while neuropathy can result from a sports injury, it’s rare. Neuropathy is more likely caused by an underlying health condition.

Underlying health conditions that cause nerve damage

Diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy. About 70% of people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage. Diabetes causes high blood sugar levels, and while the excess blood sugar can damage blood vessels, it can also damage your nerves.

In addition to diabetes, the following conditions can also contribute to the development of neuropathy:

  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Autoimmune conditions that attack the nerves
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Cancer
  • Infections, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Lyme disease, and shingles

In many cases, managing the underlying conditions can help reduce nerve damage. Managing your diabetes, for instance, can go a long way in helping reduce nerve damage.

Lifestyle and environmental factors

In addition to trauma and underlying conditions, lifestyle factors can also contribute to nerve damage. Smoking, in particular, is particularly harmful. According to research, neuropathic pain increases with the intensity of smoking addiction. Diabetic smokers have the highest risk of nerve pain.

Excess alcohol consumption and exposure to toxins can also cause nerve damage.

Dealing with neuropathic pain

Regardless of the root cause of neuropathy, the pain and discomfort have a profound impact on your life. Steven Levingston, DC, Faith Brown, DC, and Calandra Walker, DC want you to know that there are many treatments to help you find relief from nerve pain. This includes:

  • Managing underlying conditions
  • Physical therapy
  • Topical creams, including capsaicin cream
  • Dietary modifications, which are especially helpful in addressing vitamin deficiencies

Questions about neuropathy? Don’t hesitate to give us a call! Call the Pearland, Texas, location of your choice. You can also book an appointment via our online system.