Did you know that peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a wide variety of different factors?
While it is common for most people to associate peripheral neuropathy with someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, there are many other reasons why a person may develop numbness, tingling, and pain in their lower extremities.
To explore this topic in more depth, we have created this article as a helpful guide for anyone experiencing neuropathy symptoms but not living with diabetes. Read on to learn more about the most common causes and treatment options available for peripheral neuropathy not caused by diabetes.
What is non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy?
To better understand this condition, we first must explore the difference between the central and peripheral nervous systems.
The central nervous system is composed of our brain and spinal cord and acts as the interpretative center for every impulse our body experiences. On the other hand, the peripheral nervous system is the blanket term for all other nerves in our body. Peripheral nerves are connected to our vital organs and limbs and are the reason why we can move around and feel our surrounding environment.
Non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a neurological condition that primarily impacts the function of our peripheral nerves. When these nerves are damaged, so is their ability to conduct electrical impulses. This impairment is one of the primary causes of neuropathy symptoms. Depending on the extent of the nerve damage, symptoms of non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy can range from mild tingling to severely debilitating pain and profound numbness.
Causes of non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Now that we have a better understanding of the basics of neuropathy, we can explore what makes non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy different from the rest. While it is common for neuropathy to be associated with poorly controlled diabetes as chronic exposure to high blood sugar levels damages the peripheral nerves, there are other reasons why a person can develop this condition. Some examples of non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy causes include:
Viral or bacterial infections like diphtheria, hepatitis, Lyme disease, and more can lead to chronic neurological damage and numbness.
In cases of severe injury, pinching, bruising, applying pressure to, or severing peripheral nerves can cause the development of permanent neuropathy in the affected area.
Medication side effects
While neuropathy is not a common side effect of many medications, chemotherapy drugs that target tumor cells do come with neuropathy as a possible complication.
Exposure to toxins
Poisons and excessive alcohol consumption have been proven to be neurotoxic, damaging the vulnerable peripheral nerves.
Defined as medical conditions where the immune system targets and destroys healthy tissue, autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis are known to cause non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Despite being caused by various factors, the symptoms of non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy are very similar to other forms of the disease. As the disease progresses, examples of common neuropathy symptoms include:
- Mild numbness and tingling in the toes and feet
- The sudden onset of hypersensitivity and cramping pain
- A burning sensation to touch
- Poor temperature control
- Reduced blood circulation
- Profound numbness resulting in mobility difficulties
- Eventual cellular injury and death
Understanding your options for non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy treatment
While there is currently no definitive cure for non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy, there are various treatment options available that can help reduce the severity of your symptoms while also slowing down the progression of the disease. Depending on your specific needs and existing medical conditions, your primary healthcare provider will curate a personalized treatment plan designed to improve your overall health. Common strategies for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy not caused by diabetes include:
Ranging from meditation and over-the-counter medications to prescription drugs specifically aimed at treating the condition, there are multiple options available for neuropathy pain management.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your mobility and independence may become more limited as the condition progresses. Regular assessments and the use of mobility aids can help to improve your ability to keep up with your daily routine.
From improving your diet and exercising daily to wearing supportive non-binding diabetic socks, there are many at-home options for patients looking to improve their neuropathy symptoms.
The bottom line
Whether your neuropathy symptoms are caused by previous trauma, medications, infections, or other medical conditions, there are plenty of treatment and support options available to help patients cope and adapt. Educating yourself about common causes of non-diabetic peripheral neuropathy is one of the best ways to ensure that you can advocate for yourself, should you require treatment for your symptoms.
We hope this is a helpful article for anyone looking to learn more about neuropathy. Explore our blog today to learn more about other common diabetes-related conditions.
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