Polyneuropathy: A Comprehensive Guide

Damage to the peripheral nerves (that outside of the brain and spinal cord) and the resulting symptoms are generally known as peripheral neuropathy, the most common form of which is polyneuropathy. This neuropathy condition may damage nerves in more than one location.

Different Types of Polyneuropathy

The following are examples of common types of polyneuropathy:

1. Chronic Symmetrical Peripheral Neuropathy

Neuropathy of the Peripheral Nerves, Chronic, Symmetric They are the most common type of polyneuropathy and have a slow, progressive course, affecting nerves all over the body.

2. Acute Symmetrical Peripheral Neuropathy

Short-Term Symmetrical Peripheral Neuropathy Rarely encountered, this severe, fast-progressing polyneuropathy affects nerves throughout the body. It is most commonly seen in Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune condition that destroys the peripheral nervous system and can be deadly.

3. Multiple Mononeuropathy

Multiple sclerosis of the nerves, this type of polyneuropathy involves damage to at least two nerve sections. It can arise from vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), sarcoidosis, and some malignancy.


Symptoms can vary depending on the cause. The following are the most prevalent symptoms:

  • Paresthesia refers to strange, unpredictable sensations.
  • Severe pains that occur unexpectedly
  • Distal polyneuropathy is characterized by burning or tingling feelings, particularly in the feet and hands.
  • Allodynia numbness is the sensation of being excessively sensitive to touch.
  • Experiencing weakness in your legs or arms (sometimes due to weak or atrophied muscles)
  • Unable to walk straight, resulting in stumbling or falling difficulties swallowing


Idiopathic, acquired, and genetic causes are all possible. The cause of the nerve injury is unknown in idiopathic polyneuropathy.

Acquired denotes that an external event, such as a severe injury or an infection, caused polyneuropathy. It could also result from an underlying ailment that isn't appropriately treated or produces complications, such as a vitamin shortage, diabetes, or cancer.

Hereditary polyneuropathy is inherited genetically from one of your parents. These disorders, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, usually cause slow and progressive nerve degeneration.

Acute forms can happen because of several different causes. These include:

  • Certain insecticides
  • Autoimmune disorders in which your body attacks the myelin in your nerve cells, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)
  • Some antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and sedatives
  • Cancer, especially those that directly affect the nervous system, such as multiple myeloma

Chronic forms are frequently idiopathic; however, they can also be caused by factors such as:

  • Alcoholism or excessive alcohol consumption in general
  • Diabetes and an inability to control blood sugar levels
  • Specific heavy metals
  • A lack of nutrients or vitamins, particularly thiamin or vitamin B-12
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Renal disease
  • Certain malignancies, such as lung cancer


The treatment of polyneuropathy is condition specific. It's also possible to have a different response depending on the location of your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medications for relieving pain and discomfort if nerve damage is causing you significant distress. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are one example (NSAIDs).

Lifestyle changes

Modifying your routine could be an effective treatment for your polyneuropathy. Reducing your alcohol intake or refraining from doing some routine activities may provide some relief. Your doctor may recommend that you reduce your contact with whatever environmental toxin or chemical is responsible for your polyneuropathy.

For traumatic injuries

Your doctor may suggest physical therapy if you've developed polyneuropathy due to a traumatic injury. Because of this, you may be able to regain complete physical control. You may also be able to discover coping mechanisms for any nerve pain or altered sensations that the damage has prompted.

For cancer

Your doctor may prescribe surgery to remove the cancer cells or tumors causing your polyneuropathy. Treatment with chemotherapy may relieve nerve pressure caused by tumors or malignant cells.

For diabetes

If diabetes is the cause of your polyneuropathy, your doctor will most likely propose a treatment plan to help you control your blood sugar levels. Oral medicines or self-administered insulin injections are frequently used in this treatment strategy. Your doctor may recommend surgery to transplant insulin-producing cells (known as islet cells) from a donor pancreas to help your body create and release more insulin in rare cases of Type 1 diabetes. This effective procedure will likely be recommended only after all other therapies have failed.

For autoimmune conditions

If an autoimmune disorder causes your polyneuropathy, your doctor may recommend various treatments or therapies. These are some examples:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Intravenous injection of immune globulin (directly into your veins)
  • Toxins are removed from your blood through plasma exchange

Risk Factors

Your general health may show your polyneuropathy risk factors. Typical risk elements include:

  • Kidney or liver disorders
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Alcoholism
  • Includes HIV, herpes zoster, and Lyme illness
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Repetitive motion injury occurs when specific body components are used repeatedly (for example, in an industrial job).


For your doctor to diagnose polyneuropathy and determine its cause, they will likely run a battery of tests. Your doctor will be better able to treat your nerve damage and pain if they know exactly where you are experiencing it. Physical examinations are also helpful for detecting nerve damage-related muscular weakness or atrophy. To determine the extent of nerve damage, your doctor may do electrical nerve and muscle tests.

Your doctor can also determine the cause and severity of polyneuropathy by drawing blood, analyzing urine, and performing a biopsy on the damaged area (which may include nerves). When a doctor detects a more severe condition, they may order more tests. If your doctor suspects something is wrong with your protein or white blood cell levels, they may perform a spinal tap or lumbar puncture. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a possible diagnosis if test findings are abnormal.

The Final Verdict

By detecting certain disorders early, you can help limit nerve damage. That way, you can receive therapy before the pain or suffering becomes unbearable.

If you observe any signs of polyneuropathy, especially after a significant injury, consult your doctor as soon as possible. They can tell you whether you have any disorders causing your polyneuropathy. The best method to avoid polyneuropathy is to treat your symptoms as soon as they appear.

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