Peripheral Neuropathy

“People who don't see you every day have a hard time understanding how on some days--good days--you can run three miles, but can barely walk across the parking lot on other days."
Jennifer Starzec

I have chosen to include peripheral neuropathy as a separate page because it is a clear

example of where one condition has many causes, many of them related.


As someone with a diagnosis of Diabetes Type 2, neuropathy wasn’t something I

knew anything about for many years, until one night, in bed, I became aware of

pain in my feet and legs, tingling sensations, my feet one minute were burning hot,

the next, and for some duration, freezing cold.

Numerous consultations later and I was told I had claudication, atherosclerosis, and

peripheral neuropathy and each consultant said that as I was old there was nothing

could be done, I had to get used to it.

I urge you never to give in to these hopeless mantras passed down by the NHS! Too old indeed.


Undaunted, I did my research, and am finding, there is so much else out there, not available on the National Health Service , that provides treatment and relief. This means taking the approach that the body needs the correct tools to restore health and build healthy nerves. These tools are specific nutrition (vitamins).  

So don’t be fobbed off by this mantra of…"get used to it. There is nothing we can do.”  It may be true that the NHS can do nothing for you – or I suspect won’t – but there are things YOU can do for yourself that will help. This site is perhaps the most helpful I have found. And this one is key to understanding how other medications you may be taking are actually causing the neuropathy.


The disorder is uncomfortable, but treatments can help alleviate the discomfort. People with peripheral neuropathy generally describe the pain as stabbing, burning or tingling. In many cases, symptoms improve, especially if caused by a treatable condition.  Medications can reduce the pain of peripheral neuropathy. The most important thing to determine is whether peripheral neuropathy is the result of a serious underlying condition. Diabetes if not the only cause of peripheral neuropathy. 


Your peripheral nervous system connects the nerves from your brain and spinal cord, known as your central nervous system, to the rest of your body. This includes all communication from the brain and central nervous system to your:





•internal organs



The job of the nerves is to deliver signals about physical sensations back to your brain. Your peripheral nervous system sends information from your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of your body.

Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder that occurs when nerves malfunction because they’re damaged or destroyed. This disrupts the nerves’ normal functioning. They might send signals of pain when there’s nothing causing pain, or they might not send a pain signal even if something is harming you.

Nerve functions

Every nerve in your peripheral system has a specific function, so symptoms depend on the type of nerves affected. Nerves are classified into:

  • Sensory nerves - they  receive sensation, such as temperature, pain, vibration or touch, from the skin

  • Motor nerves - they control muscle movement

  • Autonomic nerves - they control functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and bladder. Damage to the autonomic nerves tends to affect six different organs or systems within the body, namely the bladder, digestive system, sex organs, heart (and blood vessels), eyes and sweat glands.



Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch

  • Gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your feet or hands, which can spread upward into your legs and arms

  • Lack of coordination and falling over

  • Muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected

  • Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, freezing or burning pain


If autonomic nerves are affected, signs and symptoms might include:

  • Heat intolerance and altered sweating

  • Bowel, bladder or digestive problems

  • Changes in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness


Peripheral neuropathy can affect …

  • one nerve (mononeuropathy) Physical injury or trauma such as from an accident is the most common cause.

  • two or more nerves in different areas (multiple mononeuropathy)

  • many nerves (polyneuropathy).


Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of mononeuropathy.

Most people with peripheral neuropathy have polyneuropathy ie affecting many nerves


As you can see, peripheral neuropathy is not just a single disease, it is nerve damage caused by a number of conditions.


Peripheral neuropathy can result from : -

  • traumatic injuries

  • systemic illness

  • infections

  • metabolic problems

  •  inherited causes

  • exposure to toxins.

One of the most common causes is diabetes mellitus.


Causes of neuropathies include:





















  • Alcoholism. Both the alcohol and the often poor dietary choices made by people with alcoholism can lead to vitamin deficiencies

  • Autoimmune diseases. These include chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Guillain-Barre syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and necrotising vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessel walls typically affecting small and medium vessels, interrupting normal blood flow, resulting in skin and muscle damage, including necrosis - the death of tissues and organs.)

  • Bone marrow disorders. These include abnormal protein in the blood (monoclonal gammopathies), a form of bone cancer (osteosclerotic myeloma), lymphoma and amyloidosis.

  • Diabetes. Presently, more than half the people with diabetes develop some type of poly neuropathy

  • Exposure to poisons. Toxic substances include heavy metals or chemicals.

  • Infections. Viral or bacterial infections, including Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C, leprosy, diphtheria and HIV.

  • Inherited disorders. Disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

  • Medications. Certain medications, especially those used to treat cancer (chemotherapy), can cause peripheral neuropathy.

  • Trauma or pressure on the nerve. Traumas, such as from motor vehicle accidents, falls or sports injuries, can sever or damage peripheral nerves. Nerve pressure can result from having a cast or using crutches or repeating a motion such as typing many times.

  • Tumors. Growths, cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (benign), can develop on the nerves or press on nerves. Polyneuropathy can arise as a result of some cancers related to the body's immune response. These are a form of paraneoplastic syndrome.

  • Vitamin deficiencies. B vitamins — including B-1, B-6 and B-12 — vitamin E and niacin are crucial to nerve health.

  • Other diseases. These include kidney disease, liver disease, connective tissue disorders and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).


In a number of cases, no cause can be identified (idiopathic).

Risk factors

General; According to WHO (the World Health Organisation) A risk factor is “any attribute, characteristic or exposure of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury. Some examples of the more important risk factors are underweight, unsafe sex, high blood pressure, tobacco and alcohol consumption, and unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene.”

Peripheral neuropathy risk factors include:

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, in which your immune system attacks your own tissues

  • Diabetes mellitus, especially if your sugar levels are poorly controlled

  • Exposure to toxins

  • Family history of neuropathy

  • Infections, such as Lyme disease, shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C and HIV

  • Kidney, liver or thyroid disorders

  • Repetitive motion, such as those performed for certain jobs

  • Vitamin deficiencies, particularly B vitamins



The keys to prevention are:-

Manage medical conditions that put you at risk, such as diabetes, alcoholism or rheumatoid arthritis.

Make healthy lifestyle choices


Exercise. Some exercise is a very important part in controlling neuropathy. It helps to balance blood sugar, improves circulation, and can slow th nerve damage. Swimming or riding a stationary bike may be preferable to running or walking because they are low impact exercises.




When addressing peripheral neuropathy., alcohol and tobacco should be eliminated at all costs.

Avoid processed foods, foods with processed sugar, fast foods, junk foods, sugary drinks and sodas of all types, and foods containing trans-fatty acids. Products sprayed with pesticide should also be avoided. Eat a diet rich in minimal fruits (too much sugar), plenty of vegetables, and lean protein to keep nerves healthy.

Avoid Monosodium Glutomate (MSG), aspatarme and other sweeteners.


Aim for a balanced intake of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.


Attend to your B vitamins. Protect against vitamin B-12 deficiency by eating meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy foods and fortified cereals. If you're vegetarian or vegan, fortified cereals are a good source of vitamin B-12, but talk to your doctor about B-12 supplements. All forms of vitamins are not the same. Do your research and buy good quality supplements.


Also consider vitamin D3 together with Vitamin K2


Key body systems and peripheral neuropathy


Your Bladder & Urinary Tract:

If the autonomic nerves are damaged, you may experience problems with bladder control and urinary infections.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting your bladder & urinary tract:



  • have a loss of bladder control – including urinary leakage, urinating too often or not enough, or feeling the need to urinate but being unable to.

  • are unable to completely empty my bladder (urinary retention)

  • have frequent urinary tract infections


Your Digestive System:

There are many organs which make up the digestive system. Autonomic nerves have an influence on many of these including the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and liver. Damage to these nerves can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting your digestive system:



  • experience frequent diarrhea

  • feel bloated

  • feel full after eating small amounts of food

  • feel nauseous or vomit undigested food

  • have constipation

  • have frequent indigestion or heartburn

  • have no appetite


Your Eyes:

Neuropathy affects the eyes, importantly your ability to quickly adjust when going from dark to light.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting your eyes

Your eyes (pupils) have a hard time adjusting from dark to light

You find it difficult to drive at night


Your Heart & Blood Vessels:

The heart and blood vessels can be especially vulnerable to the effects of damage on the autonomic nerves. The symptoms can range from minor (such as feeling dizzy) to serious (heart attack).

Signs that neuropathy is affecting my heart or blood vessels


  • often feel dizzy or faint when standing

  • have fainting spells

  • find it abnormally difficult to breath (especially after exercise)

  • have abnormal blood pressure

  • have a high heart rate, even when resting

  • have suffered a heart attack without any warning signs


Your Sex Organs:

Sexual health and well-being can be negatively impacted by nerve damage.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting your sexual health



  • experience erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation (for men)

  • have difficulty achieving orgasm during sex (women)

  • have vaginal dryness (women)


Your Sweat Glands:

Damage to the autonomic nerves affects sweat glands. You may sweat excessively – or not sweat at all. Your body may find it difficult to regulate its temperature.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting your sweat glands:

  • You rarely sweat, even if exercising or you’re hot

  • You sweat excessively for no reason

  • The skin on your feet is dry



Getting help

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above – it is important you first talk

to your doctor who can ask the necessary questions and run the appropriate tests

to help determine the cause and recommend a treatment approach. Neuropathy

is not just caused by diabetes.

If neuropathy is present, treating the underlying nerve damage is critical to l

essening the severity of symptoms. Neuropathy treatments may include medications,

supplements, blood sugar management, diet and more.

Metaphysical meanings                                                      beyond the physical




As peripheral neuropathy affects so many organs and is linked to so many medical conditions, research the metaphysical / spiritual meaning of each of the areas or conditions that are troubling you eg

Alcoholism: Inability to accept yourself and/or your circumstances

Arthritis: Lack of self-love and self-acceptance

Bone Problems: Rebellion towards authority

Circulation (Blood): Feeling stuck and/or lacking ideas and positive emotions

Depression: Feeling hopeless, being angry at the self

Diabetes: Yearning for something which is no more in your life

Dizziness: Being ungrounded and/or lack of focus

Feet Issues: Not wanting to move forward

Finger Issues (Index): Going against authority and/or guardian/parent

Impotence: Anger bottled up towards a past partner and/or harnessing sexual guilt

Infection: Anger and/or irritation about a particular situation

Pain: Guilt, seeking to punish the self

Stroke: Not being allowed to deal with own emotions, difficulty in being authentic

Urinary Issues: Anger usually towards someone of the opposite sex, pisseed off


Metaphysically, nerves tell of hypertension, in both your feelings and beliefs—manifesting in physical body symptoms such as, in this case damaged nerves, neuropathy.


You are probably someone who has taken on more than your fair share not necessarily doing things for others but just by being an all-time workaholic. This pattern also means you don’t have to be aware of your feelings but all the time, your feelings are doing damage.

Overall, you are likely to have been overextending yourself by demanding too much of yourself physically, emotionally or mentally, or all three.

So often we place unreasonable expectations on ourselves, secretly (ie not consciously aware) believing we are the superhero. Looking back, after my diagnosis of neuropathy, I had numerous careers where I worked from dawn to dusk, working from early morning until late at night, every day of the week and most weekends, and even if I wasn’t physically at work, would be worrying about clients, and the politics of running an organisation. In short, I gave myself no let up. After all, I wasn’t exhibiting any signs or symptoms meriting medical attention.

But oh, had I known then what I know now.  

So you might want to consider whether you have an unreasonable expectation of your abilities, of your physical stamina. For all you know you could be stressing your body, attempting to make sure everything gets done, all the while depriving your body of much needed rest, relaxation, and enJOYment. You need time each day to allow the body to heal.

Key things to look out for:  if you find yourself becoming constantly angry, filled with resentment, carrying grudges and unforgiveness, know that you are putting tremendous stress on your whole body systems that will likely result in an overtaxed nervous system. If you internalise all those feelings, and beliefs that you or someone you know has to meet high standards, high expectations, high values, and do nothing to express them externally, you are cooking up the pressure cooker gearing toward a major explosion.

You may find it helpful to stop long enough to check in on what you are expecting of yourself (and others) and whether, given your present  circumstances, is it reasonable? You need balance in life, taking time out to discover the wonders that life has to offer.

But it’s not all about people who rush around in a frenzy, or work 24/7; even if you are living a relatively inactive life, you could be sat in one chair throughout the livelong day, fretting and angsting, stressing your nerves, often criticising yourself that you are not good enough because you are not living up to an internal expectation you have of yourself, or fretting over the future.

In her book, You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay sees nerves as related to “communication. Receptive reporters.” Which to me says much about the person, like myself once upon a time, who would dig in and drive, drive themselves forward, for perfectly valid reasons so this is not to blame, but creating untold levels of stress and pressure on all their systems and so intently focussed they were not listening to their body saying, “this is too much, ease up, listen to the real message beyond the pain, learn to relax.” Life doesn’t always have to be hard or a struggle.



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