According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified. When the cause is unknown, it is referred to as idiopathic neuropathy; about 30% of cases are classified as such.
Common causes include:
- Diabetes – Over half of those with diabetes will have some form of nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy; this accounts for another 30% of neuropathies.
- Vitamin deficiencies – especially vitamin B12, but also other B vitamins such as B1, B6, B3, and vitamin E as well
- Alcoholism – due to nutritional deficiencies and many think as a direct effect of the alcohol
- Trauma – physical injury to a nerve; may be seen with repetitive stress and with any condition that traps, compresses, or damages a nerve (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome).
Other causes include:
- Kidney, liver and lung disease, or other critical illness
- Hypothyroidism and pituitary disorders
- Autoimmune disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus
- Nerves compressed by inflammation or tumors
- A wide range of infections, including: shingles (varicella zoster virus), Lyme disease, HIV/AIDS, cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus, syphilis, leprosy, diphtheria, and parasites
- Exposure to toxins, such as the heavy metals lead, arsenic, and mercury, or to other environmental toxins; some medications, such as anti-cancer drugs can also cause neuropathy.
- Other rare, inherited disorders