A number of factors can cause neuropathies. These factors include:
Trauma or pressure on the nerve. Nerve pressure can result from using a cast or crutches, spending a long time in an unnatural position, repeating a motion many times â€” such as typing at a computer keyboard â€” or having a tumor or abnormal bone growth. When peripheral neuropathy affects a single nerve, trauma or nerve pressure is the most likely cause.
Diabetes. When damage occurs to several nerves, the cause frequently is diabetes. At least half of all people with diabetes develop some type of neuropathy.
Vitamin deficiencies. B vitamins are particularly important to nerve health.
Alcoholism. Many alcoholics develop peripheral neuropathy because they have poor dietary habits, leading to vitamin deficiencies.
Autoimmune diseases. These include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Other diseases. Kidney disease, liver disease and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) also can cause peripheral neuropathy. Patients with HIV/AIDS also are prone to develop peripheral neuropathy.
Inherited disorders. Examples include Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and amyloid polyneuropathy.
Exposure to poisons. These may include some toxic substances, such as heavy metals, and certain medications â€” especially those used to treat cancer.
Unfortunately, it's not always easy to pinpoint the cause of peripheral neuropathy. In fact, if your neuropathy isn't associated with diabetes, it's possible the cause may never be found.