Neuropathy is the term used to describe a problem with the nerves, usually the ‘peripheral nerves’ as opposed to the ‘central nervous system’ (the brain and spinal cord).
The causes of peripheral neuropathy are:
- Alcoholism. Poor dietary choices made by alcoholics can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
- Autoimmune diseases. These include Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and necrotizing vasculitis.
- Diabetes. More than half of people with diabetes develop some type of neuropathy.
- Exposure to poisons. Toxic substances include heavy metals or chemicals.
- Medications. Certain medications, especially those used to treat cancer (chemotherapy), may cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Infections. These include certain viral or bacterial infections, including Lyme disease, shingles (varicella-zoster), Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C, leprosy, diphtheria and HIV.
- Inherited disorders. Disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are hereditary types of neuropathy.
- Trauma or pressure on the nerve. Traumas, such as 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 many times, such as typing.
- Tumors. Growths, cancerous (malignant) and noncancerous (benign), can develop on the nerves themselves or they can put pressure on surrounding nerves.
- Vitamin deficiencies. B vitamins, including B-1, B-6 and B-12, vitamin E and niacin are crucial to nerve health.
- Bone marrow disorders. These include abnormal protein in the blood (monoclonal gammopathies), a form of bone cancer (osteosclerotic myeloma), lymphoma and amyloidosis.
- Other diseases. These include kidney disease, liver disease, connective tissue disorders and an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism).
On my journey with type 2 diabetes, I’ve developed diabetic neuropathy. Most people know it by the term diabetic nerve pain from the advertisements on television. It’s a shooting, burning pain that constantly reminds me of this disease. It’s also one of the main reasons I need and want to keep this beast of a disease under control. The closer in check I keep my sugars, the less pain I feel. Over the years I have determined that being out of control is just not worth the price I pay.
In my research I’ve also learned that the popular drug metformin, used to treat type 2 diabetes, when taken over time can cause a vitamin B-12 deficiency. As we see, a deficiency in B vitamins is a cause of peripheral neuropathy. When I began to take a vitamin B-12 in addition to my regular multi-vitamin, my pain lessened dramatically.
Between hypothyroidism, arthritis and diabetes it’s a challenge to manage my neuropathy, but I’m determined to stay as active as possible. On bad days I walk with a cane, but on good days I walk just as fast as my little legs will take me! I’m thankful to God for the good days! 🙂