Causes Of Neuropathy

1. Medications

Research has revealed that a large number of medications cause peripheral neuropathy as a main side effect. Ironically, even medications prescribed to help with the pain of neuropathy, such as Neurontin (gabapentin) and Lyrica, have been shown to create more damage to the peripheral nerves over time. See chart for known medications that can cause peripheral neuropathy.

2. Diabetes

60 to 70 percent of all diabetics will develop peripheral neuropathy. Researchers have long been studying the direct effect of elevated glucose and nerve damage. Chronically elevated glucose levels can damage blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves, leading to anoxia—a lack of oxygen to the nerve cells and blood vessels. This results in poor circulation and nerve damage. This is a large part of the reason that most neuropathy sufferers have pain along with abnormal changes in the skin on the legs. These changes can include purple discolorations, extremely dry, flaky skin, and extremely taut skin. All of these things are signs that the skin has lost proper circulation and thus oxygenation and nutrients; it also signifies that the skin is beginning to die.

3. Surgeries

It is not uncommon for neuropathy to develop as a side effect of surgery. We typically don't think of surgery as a bodily trauma or injury, but it is. Any time the tissues of your body are disrupted, whether intentionally or accidentally, the body processes the mechanism as an assault, resulting in a healing cascade with scar tissue.

Nerves might be damaged during surgery, either directly (i.e., the nerve is severed or nicked) or indirectly (i.e., the nerve is bruised or the tissue surrounding the nerve is inflamed, leading to nerve compression). For example, maintaining a patient in a prolonged position can create an abnormal stretch or compression on the nerve. It can also hamper circulation and deprive the nerve of oxygen and necessary nutrients, leading to nerve damage. Symptoms of surgical nerve injury can include numbness, tingling or a burning pain, which can be moderate to severe. The symptoms might occur at the surgical site of the feet, legs, hands, or arms. Sometimes a person will notice that the symtoms worsen with specific motions or movements, or while sleeping at night.

4. Chemotherapy / Radiation (CIPN)

Many chemotherapy drugs cause damage to the peripheral nerves resulting in neuropathy. See the extensive list of chemotherapy drugs known to induce peripheral neuropathy in the medication table.

5. Physical Injuries

Physical injuries or any form of trauma—such as car accidents, falls, or sport injuries—can cause injury to a nerve by creating a stretch, compression, or crushing injury. Nerves can also be severed or forcibly detached from the spinal cord, either partially or completely. Less severe traumas, such as fractured or dislocated bones, can cause serious nerve damage by exerting pressure on neighboring nerves. Disc herniations, protrusions, and disc bulges between vertebrae can compress nerve fibers where they emerge from the spinal cord, thereby damaging the nerve and creating neuropathic pain. These are only a few types of injuries that might induce neuropathy.

6. Heavy Metals (lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, etc.)

One of the most common heavy metals that people are exposed to is mercury. It has been known to cause illness since the ancient Roman times, and it has been documented as neurotoxic, which means that it has the ability to poison and kill nerves. According to US government agencies, mercury and other heavy metals cause adverse health effects and learning disabilities in millions of people in the United States each year. The elderly and children are especially susceptible.

Mercury is by far one of the most pervasive heavy metals that we are dealing with in the twenty-first century. It can be found in our oceans, soil, water, air, and teeth. This heavy metal has been used in products such as dental amalgams (silver fillings), immunizations and vaccines, pesticides, fungicides, household disinfectants, antiseptics, diuretics, light bulbs, microwave ovens, batteries, paint, and thermometers. Because of our chronic exposure to mercury and other heavy metals, it is very common for people to get an accumulation of these metals within the cells of their bodies, where they can potentially wreak havoc with our health.

Nearly 200 million people in the USA alone still have silver fillings. These fillings continuously release mercury as a toxic vapor, and as much as 80 percent of the vapor enters the body. Until recently, people assumed that the mercury stayed within the filling. Now it is known that mercury leaches out of the filling and into the mouth, digestive tract, and nasal passageways every minute of the day.

Hundreds of thousands of medical lab tests identified mercury exposure levels to be ten times greater than the average level for people without amalgams. If you would like to learn more about other diseases and illnesses linked with mercury toxicity, I highly recommend reading The Poison in Your Teeth by Dr. Tom McGuire, DDS. Also, visit http://iaomt.org/videos/ to watch the video titled, “The Smoking Teeth.” It’s an extremely interesting eight-minute video that demonstrates the mercury vapor being released from a tooth and the effects that this has on the nervous system and other organ systems in the body. I often play this video when I give public lectures. You will likely find it very enlightening.

7. Environment chemicals and toxins

Toxin accumulation within the body can cause peripheral nerve damage. Toxins are chemicals that we absorb into our body. They come from the food that we eat (pesticides, phthalates, MSG, aspartame, etc.), plastic containers that food and beverages are packed in, the water that we drink (chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals), household cleaners, personal care products, makeup, perfumes and colognes, to name a few.

Our bodies are designed to naturally detoxify unwanted substances daily, as part of normal metabolic processing. In fact, detoxification is one of the body’s most basic automatic functions—eliminating and neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, and lymphatic system. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we are exposed to the highest toxic load than ever before in history. As a result, our bodies have an incredibly difficult time keeping up to the demands.

Nerve damage can occur when we are exposed to natural or artificial toxic substances. These toxins are called neurotoxins. Neurotoxins are destructive and poisonous to the nervous system, thereby altering the normal activity of the nerves. This can eventually disrupt and damage nerve cells. The accumulation of toxins within our body has been proven to have a detrimental affect on not only our nervous system but health, in general.

8. Malnutrition

When we think of malnutrition, we typically think of third-world countries, where hunger and starvation run rampant. We don't commonly think of America, the land of abundance, as being a country stricken with malnutrition, but it is. In fact, most obese people are malnourished.

Malnutrition can result from an inadequate caloric intake, as in the case of starvation; but what you may not realize is that nutrient deficiencies of necessary vitamins, minerals, and enzymes (found in whole foods), can lead to a state of malnutrition. This is a direct result of eating a majority of processed foods and junk foods. This is what is referred to as "Modern Malnutrition'-- or what should more appropriately be called dysnutrition, for dysfunctional nutrition. The excessive caloric intake of nutrient deficient foods -or what I like to call 'dead foods' results in significant vitamin & mineral deficiencies necessary for not only healthy nerves but for prevention of chronic illness, as well..

Malnutrition can occur in the following ways:

  • Over-consumption of junk food, refined foods and processed foods lacking necessary balanced nutrients.
  • Inability of the digestive tract to absorb nutrients consumed (usually seen with GERD, Celiac disease, IBS and other Inflammatory bowel disorders).

Note: To learn more about causes and effective treatment of peripheral neuropathy, please see our book: Defeat Neuropathy Now… In Sprite of Your Doctor.

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