What's Causing My Peripheral Neuropathy?

General Neurology located in Albuquerque, NM

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What's Causing My Peripheral Neuropathy?

If you have peripheral neuropathy, you’ll need to work with a health care provider to take special care to manage your symptoms and protect your nerves from further damage. With the right treatment you can stay healthy.

Board-certified neurologist Timothy Ownbey, DO, leads the team here at Neurology Specialists of Albuquerque. If you have peripheral neuropathy, you’re in the right place. You can rely on the knowledge and expertise of Dr. Ownbey to help you keep your nerves as healthy as possible, and prevent further damage. 

Diabetes-related neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that happens in people with diabetes. It occurs when your blood sugar levels remain high for an extended period. Diabetes-related neuropathy most commonly affects the legs and feet. While there is no cure, treatment can ease related symptoms and prevent neuropathy from worsening.

What is neuropathy?

Neuropathy is caused by damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves, resulting in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain in the affected area. Neuropathies commonly begin in the hands and feet, but other parts of the body can be affected as well.

When neuropathy affects the peripheral nerves, it’s called peripheral neuropathy, and this is the type of neuropathy that commonly affects people with diabetes. The peripheral nerves supply the extremities and communicate information to the brain about sensation, among other things.

When nerve cells are damaged, neuropathy occurs. This interferes with the way neurons communicate with one another and with the brain. Neuropathy can affect a single nerve or many peripheral nerves throughout the body. 

Finding the cause of your neuropathy

Other than diabetes, there are several other causes of peripheral neuropathy. Here are some of the most common: 


Trauma from falls, car accidents, fractures, or sports activities can damage, irritate, inflame, or compress nerves, resulting in neuropathy. 

Autoimmune disorders and infections

Autoimmune disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren's syndrome can lead to neuropathy. Infections such as chickenpox, shingles, herpes, and Lyme disease can also cause neuropathy. 


Among other things, some antibiotics and antiseizure medications can cause neuropathy. Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can cause peripheral nerve damage.

Vascular disease

Neuropathy can occur when blood flow to the arms and legs is reduced or slowed due to inflammation, blood clots, or other blood vessel disorders. Reduced blood flow deprives nerve cells of oxygen, resulting in nerve damage or cell death. Vasculitis, smoking, and diabetes can all lead to vascular problems.

Vitamin deficiencies and alcoholism

Adequate levels of vitamins E, B1, B6, B12, and niacin are required for normal nerve function. Alcoholism depletes the body of thiamine and other essential nutrients required for nerve function. 

Managing neuropathy

Identifying any underlying medical issues is the first step in managing peripheral neuropathy.

Treatment in these cases is aimed at controlling and managing symptoms as well as preventing further nerve damage.

Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake protect your nerves.

A variety of medications help in pain control by adjusting pain signaling pathways in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Medications used for managing peripheral neuropathy include certain antidepressants and antiseizure medications like gabapentin.

Physical therapy is also helpful in some cases. 

The sooner you take steps to manage peripheral neuropathy. The better. Early intervention protects your nerves, prevents further damage, and helps to limit the impact neuropathy has on your life.

To get started, contact our Albuquerque office or book online to schedule a visit with Dr. Ownbey.