Neuropathy is the clinical term used to describe damage to nerves in the body. There are two main types of nerves that can experience neuropathy – peripheral and autonomic nerves.
Peripheral neuropathy: refers to damage to nerves that send information to and your arms, hands, legs, feet skin and the nerves that control your muscles.
Autonomic neuropathy: refers to damage to nerves that control the function of your body’s organs, such are the heart, blood vessels, bladder and digestive system.
Most neuropathies start by affecting peripheral nerves. Over time and as damage continues, autonomic neuropathies can develop as well. The most common type of peripheral neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy, where high blood sugar causes nerve damage. However, exposure to toxins, drugs (e.g. chemotherapy), alcohol, nutrient deficiencies and genetics can all lead to peripheral neuropathy.
There are five different types of peripheral neuropathies.
Mononeuropathies: are diagnosed when only one nerve is damaged (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome).
Polyneuropathies: are diagnosed when two or more nerves are damaged.
Sensory neuropathies: occur when damage is limited to sensory nerves and cause painful symptoms.
Motor neuropathies: occur when damage is limited to motor nerves and result in difficulty moving parts of the body.
Sensorimotor polyneuropathy: is the combination of peripheral neuropathy that affects sensory and motor nerves. This is the most common type of neuropathy for people with diabetes, toxin or chemotherapy induced neuropathy.