Munson Health
Peripheral Neuropathy

Back to Document

by Wood D


Many health conditions can cause peripheral neuropathy. The damage may occur due to:
  • Trauma from nerve compression or inflammation
  • Certain medications, such as chemotherapy treatments for cancer
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Hereditary syndromes
  • Exposure to toxins and heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, or pesticides
  • Exposure to cold or radiation
  • Prolonged treatment in the intensive care unit
Health conditions that can damage peripheral nerves include:


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include:

Treatment for the Underlying Illness or Exposure

Treating the underlying illness can decrease symptoms or make them go away. For instance, if it is caused by diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels may help. In some cases, neuropathy caused by medications or toxins is completely reversed when these substances are stopped or avoided. Correction of vitamin B12 deficiency often improves symptoms.

Physical Therapy

Certain exercises may help stretch shortened or contracted muscles and increase joint flexibility. In long-standing cases, splinting the joint may be required to protect and rest it, while maintaining proper alignment.
Orthotics, such as supports and braces, may help with:
  • Deformities
  • Balance issues
  • Muscle weakness
Maintaining physical activity is also important.


Prescription and over-the-counter pain medications are often used to ease discomfort.
Medications used to treat depression and prevent convulsions can relieve neuropathy symptoms.
For severe and potentially life-threatening cases, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, treatment includes:

Other Therapies

These therapies are aimed at reducing symptoms:


Surgery can relieve the pressure on nerves. For example, surgeons commonly release fibrous bands in the wrist to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.


To help reduce your chance of peripheral neuropathy:


American Chronic Pain Association

The Neuropathy Association



Canadian Diabetes Association

Health Canada



Baron R, Binder A, et al. Neuropathic pain: diagnosis, pathophysiological mechanisms, and treatment. Lancet Neurol. 2010;9(8):807-819.

Diabetic neuropathies: The nerve damage of diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: Updated November 26, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2014.

Karlsson P, et al. Epidermal nerve fiber length density estimation using global spatial sampling in healthy subjects and neuropathy patients. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2013 Mar;72(3):186-93.

Peripheral neuropathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Available at: Updated April 15, 2014. Accessed May 30, 2014.

12/20/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance 2007 safety alerts for drugs, biologics, medical devices, and dietary supplements: Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol and generics). Medwatch. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:

10/5/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Feng Y, Schlösser FJ, Sumpio BE. The Semmes Weinstein monofilament examination as a screening tool for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. J Vasc Surg. 2009;50:675-682,682.


Revision Information