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

This is an umbrella term that describes damage to nerves that send information to and your arms, hands, legs, feet skin and the nerves that control your muscles - the peripheral parts of your body.

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). This can have symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling or weakness.

Polyneuropathies: are diagnosed when two or more nerves are damaged.

Sensory neuropathies: occur when damage is limited to sensory nerves and cause painful symptoms. This painful symptoms can include numbness, tingling, burning, shooting pain or loss of sensation.

Motor neuropathies: occur when damage is limited to motor nerves and result in difficulty moving parts of the body. This can result in muscle weakness, poor coordination, trips and falls.

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. This can result in all of the symptoms described above; however, the sensory symptoms typically begin before the motor symptoms. 

Autonomic Neuropathy 

Is damage to nerves that control the function of your body’s organs, such are the heart, blood vessels, bladder and digestive system.

Learn what to expect with advanced neuropathy.

Here are 7 ways to manage peripheral neuropathy and 6 ways to protect your heart from autonomic neuropathy.