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What Are the Different Types of Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is nerve impairment or damage, a condition that results in permanent or temporary changes in nerve function. Different types of neuropathy can cause pain, discomfort, or unusual sensations. 

Symptoms of the condition include a decline in function that can lead to diminished strength or reduced sensation. Treatment is essential to reduce pain and prevent or slow down the progression of the disease. The treatment will depend on the type of condition. 

Below are the different types of neuropathy. 

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type, describing damage to the nerves that control the extremities. Damage to the nerves in the arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes affects the movement and sensation of the limbs. 

Neuropathy originates from issues that affect the entire body. It can be due to injuries, immune disorders, and other health conditions. It often affects people with diabetes when blood sugar levels are not well controlled. It can also be a side effect of chemotherapy. 

Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy affects the involuntary nerves that control the body’s organs. The nerves control circulation, digestion, heart rate, blood pressure, sweat glands, bladder/bowels, sexual organs, and more. 

This type of neuropathy is usually a side effect of severe diabetes and other health complications, including cancer and kidney failure. The use of certain medications can also cause it.

Proximal Neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy affects nerves of the limbs close to the torso. These are the nerves in the shoulders, upper arms, and thighs. This type of neuropathy is less common and can occur alongside peripheral neuropathy or on its own. 

It is usually asymmetric, which generally affects one side of the body. Causes of this neuropathy include inflammatory diseases, cancer, and conditions that involve the muscles that control breathing function. 

Focal Neuropathy


Focal neuropathy is less common than other neuropathies and can also be a consequence of diabetes. Focal neuropathy is also known as mononeuropathy and is characterized by damage to a single nerve. 

It usually affects a nerve in the wrist, thigh, or foot but can also affect other nerves. The condition can be painful, and the symptoms and side effects are usually similar to those of different types of neuropathy. It includes conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Cranial Neuropathy

Cranial neuropathy affects one or more of the 12 nerves connected to the brain. It causes microvascular cranial nerve palsy, multiple cranial neuropathies, and Bell’s palsy. Some of the issues have a relationship to diabetes. 

Treatment for Neuropathy

Regardless of the type or cause, it is essential to treat neuropathy. Treatment of neuropathy usually focuses on controlling the root cause or underlying issue. Taking medications may control the pain, but it does not reverse nerve damage. Addressing the root cause is the only way to halt nerve damage. 

Dealing with underlying medications, such as controlling diabetes, can help reverse or slow down nerve damage. In some cases, surgery is necessary. Avoiding alcohol use can help prevent neuropathy progression. 

For more on neuropathy, visit Greater Nashville Health Institute at our Gallatin, Tennessee office. Call (615) 583-4006 to schedule an appointment.

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