Polyneuropathy is a nerve disease characterized by systemic damage to peripheral nerves. The symptoms can be varied, with tingling, numbness, weakness and pain in the hands and feet becoming noticeable. However, polyneuropathy can also lead to unsteady gait, muscle atrophy and impaired fine motor skills.

Chronic wounds often develop on the feet, as those affected have a reduced sense of pain, which is why small injuries go unnoticed for a long time and can become infected.

What is Polyneuropathy?

Polyneuropathy is a neuronal disease in which the peripheral nerves are damaged and stimuli cannot be transmitted or can only be transmitted inadequately. The peripheral nerves are the nerves that are not located in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

The peripheral nerves include:

  • Motor nerve fibers (control the movement of muscles)
  • Sensory nerve fibers (transmit sensation to the brain)
  • Autonomic nerve fibers (autonomic nerves that control involuntary processes such as breathing, heart and digestion)

Consequently, all three types of nerves are damaged in polyneuropathy, which means that the symptoms can affect motor, sensory and autonomic processes.

Symptoms of Polyneuropathy

The symptoms of polyneuropathy affect the motor, sensory and autonomic transmission of stimuli.

  • Muscle atrophy
  • Unsteady gait
  • Impaired fine motor skills
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Restricted temperature sensation
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive problems
  • Change in breathing
  • Urinary incontinence and/or fecal incontinence
  • Impotence

Causes of Polyneuropathy

There are many causes of polyneuropathy. The causes include:

  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Infections, e.g. with Lyme disease or shingles
  • Autoimmune diseases, e.g. Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Lack of vitamins, e.g. vitamin B6 or B12
  • Some cancers
  • Toxic exposure, e.g. to mercury, arsenic or cadmium
  • Kidney and liver diseases

Treatment of Polyneuropathy

When treating polyneuropathy, the causes should be identified and treated in a targeted manner. At the same time, the symptoms should be alleviated in order to optimize the patient’s quality of life. The aim is to prevent the disease from progressing and to optimize the neuronal condition. It is always important that the underlying disease is also treated.

Some important measures are:

  • Treatment of the underlying disease
  • Adjustment of the diabetes
  • Abstinence from alcohol
  • Change of diet
  • Adjustment of micronutrients
  • Physiotherapy
  • Detoxification measures such as heavy metal elimination with certain chelates and INUSpheresis

Med. pract. Dana Hreus M.A.

It is important to seek help from experienced doctors at an early stage, as untreated polyneuropathy can lead to considerable restrictions in quality of life and a range of consequential damage.

Med. pract. Dana Hreus M.A.

Further information

The information listed contains relevant topics and serves to improve understanding.