Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) is the term used to describe disorders of the peripheral nerves. Even though 10 to 20 million people in the US suffer with PN information is hard to come by. Approximately 50% of diabetics will develop the condition.
Neuropathy means “disease or abnormality of the nervous system”, which is not a very helpful definition. We think of neuropathy as any damage to the nervous system.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Herniated Discs and Strokes are all insults to different areas of the nervous system, all with different symptoms. Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects all nerves of the body from the brain, eyes and small nerves of the heart and digestive system, to the nerves in the hands feet and legs.
The peripheral nervous system is made up of the nerves that branch out of the spinal cord to all parts of the body.
Peripheral nerve cells have three main parts: cell body, axons, and dendrites (nerve/muscle junctions). Any part of the nerve can be affected, but damage to axons is most common. The axon transmits signals from nerve cell to nerve cell or muscle. Most axons are surrounded by a substance called myelin, which facilitates signal transmission.