The Top 10 Neuropathy Risk Factors

Neuropathy is nerve damage that affects the peripheral nerves and can have many different causes. These are the 10 neuropathy risk factors that are most common:

1. Diabetes

The biggest risk factor of neuropathy is high blood sugar that is common in prediabetes and diabetes, but several other factors come into play. For instance, age plays a role, and the older one gets, the more likely it is that diabetic-related neuropathy can occur. Those who have had diabetes for a long time are also risk, as there is a correlation between neuropathy and the duration of the condition. Smoking is a risk factor, as is kidney damage, which can limit the proper excretion of certain toxins and lead to nerve damage. Individuals with diabetic neuropathy tend to develop complications, such as sexual dysfunction, urinary tract problems, digestive issues, and orthostatic hypotension. Dietary changes can reduce the risk of some of these complications, but most are unavoidable when blood glucose values are unstable.


2. Alcohol

Alcohol is actually a neurotoxin, or toxin to nerves. While the body has no problem filtering out the alcohol from a glass of wine or an afterwork beer, it becomes challenged with prolonged and repeated exposure to alcohol. Similar to the damage that sugar does to nerves in people with diabetes, overtime alcohol will cause damage to nerves that can only be healed with appropriate therapy and stopping alcohol exposure.


3. Vitamin deficiencies

Different dietary habits can result in vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Vitamin B12 is one of the most important vitamins for supporting nerve signalling. If your diet is low in B12 this can cause neuropathy symptoms. Some medications such as Metformin can decrease B12. It is important to get your B12 levels checked by your healthcare provider, especially if you are taking any prescription medication.


4. Lyme Disease

Infections such as Lyme disease can lead to neuropathy. Lyme disease causes neuropathy from inflammation of the nerves that leads to painful neuropathy symptoms. It is important to treat the Lyme disease so that it the inflammation does not cause permanent nerve damage.


5. Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Sjogren's syndrome, in which your immune system attacks your own tissues can also affect nerves. These condition are associated with increase inflammation, which can increase nerve inflammation along with the body attacking nerve fibres that can increase pain and decrease mobility. 



6. Shingles

Shingles (herpes zoster virus) is a viral infection that remains in the body after having chickenpox. When the virus flares up in adults, it affects an area of the body with a rash and damages the nerves below the skin. The painful neuropathy can last months after the skin rash has disappeared and can slowly decrease over time. Adults are eligible for shingles vaccine and this is the only way to prevent this type of neuropathy. 


7. Exposure to Toxins

Chemotherapy drugs are the most common toxin to cause neuropathy. These drugs are very effective at killing cancer cells; however, they also cause damage to nerves which results in painful neuropathy symptoms. Workplace chemicals are another cause of neuropathy. Similar to sugar or alcohol, repeated and prolonged exposure to such chemicals can cause neuropathy. 



The HIV infection itself can cause damage to single or multiple nerves. Additionally, the medication used to treat these conditions can be toxic to nerves, which can make symptoms even worse. In certain cases people with HIV neuropathy can develop Guillain-Barre syndrome. 


9. Repetitive Motion Injuries

Certain movements that are repetitive, such as those performed for certain jobs can cause damaged to nerves. The most common example is carpal tunnel syndrome that is caused from extensive hand work from tasks such as typing. Receiving the appropriate occupational therapy and nerve support are essential to recovering.



10. Family History of Neuropathy

There are certain neuropathies that can be passed from generation to generation from genetic abnormalities. While these conditions can not be prevented, they can be managed with appropriate treatments. Research also shows that if a parent has diabetes, this can increase the risk of the children developing diabetes later in life. Diabetes is most common cause of neuropathy, however, prediabetes and diabetes can be prevented.


Neuropathy Treatment and Neuropathy Cure

There are three options for the management of the different types of neuropathy:

1. Peripheral Neuropathy Symptom Management

This is not a cure, but it does provide temporary relief from the painful symptoms. Symptom management can range from topical creams to medicated ointments to drug therapy. It is important to know that different drugs work differently, so sometimes a prescription might not be effective and a different drug will need to be prescribed.

2. Physical or Occupational Therapy

A physiotherapist or occupational therapist will be able to diagnose the cause of pain and use a different treatment option to address the cause of pain.

Light physical activity such as yoga, tai chi and walking can all help to improve neuropathy symptoms while improving overall health. 

3. Nutrition Therapy

Using nutrition therapy is important for managing all types of pain. For any type of nerve damage, it is important to the body repair nerve damage – and Frontline Neuropathy has been clinically proven to be effective for supporting nerve health.