Peripheral Neuropathy is not a distinct disease, but the manifestation of many conditions that damage the peripheral nerves (nervous tissue other than the brain and spinal cord). Symptoms depend on whether sensory nerves (the nerves that transmit sensory information from the body to the brain and spinal cord) or motor nerves (the nerves that transmit impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the body) are affected. If the sensory nerves are damaged, sensation may be diminished, lacking or abnormal. Damaged motor nerves impair movement or function. Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by direct or indirect injury, or by a systemic cause such as a metabolic disorder.
Reviewed By: Sean O. Stitham, MD, private practice in Internal Medicine, Seattle, Washington; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.