Neuropathy in its simplest definition is a word which refers to some type of pathology within the nerve(s). There are numerous reasons why people experience the pain and/or numbness associated with neuropathy. Some of the more common causes include diabetes, alcoholism, thyroid disorders, exposure to certain chemotherapeutic drugs, exposure to heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury), and impaired blood flow. The exact mechanism by which neuropathy occurs is also different in each of these specific situations. In addition, the neuropathy may be termed ‘idiopathic’, which simply means that the exact cause is unclear. While many patients with various forms of neuropathy can be treated successfully with medication and other conservative methods, there are plenty of situations in which these modalities are ineffective. Moreover, many patients are told that their neuropathy is likely to be progressive and irreversible which can be very difficult to hear and except. However, if some element of the neuropathic symptoms are due to nerve compression (i.e. a pinched nerve), there is certainly cause for optimism and hope.


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