Peripheral neuropathy is the medical term for damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which may be caused either by diseases of the nerve or from the side-effects of systemic illness. Peripheral neuropathies vary in their presentation and origin, and may affect the nerve or the neuromuscular junction. Major causes of peripheral neuropathy include seizures, nutritional deficiencies, and HIV, though diabetes is the most likely cause. Mechanical pressure from staying in one position for too long, a tumor, intraneural hemorrhage, exposing the body to extreme conditions such as radiation, cold temperatures, or toxic substances can also cause peripheral neuropathy.
Many of the diseases of the peripheral nervous system may present similarly to muscle problems (myopathies), and so it is important to develop approaches for assessing sensory and motor disturbances in patients so that a physician may make an accurate diagnosis.
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