When we discuss neuropathy, our focus is mainly on the peripheral nerves, since they are often affected. Peripheral neuropathy can be thought of as a condition marked by an interruption in the internal communication processes that happen between the brain and body.
The most significant risk factor for developing neuropathy tends to be diabetes, but there are certainly others. Alcohol abuse, various infections, family history, exposure to toxins, and autoimmune disorders can contribute to increasing the likelihood of neuropathy.
Complications from Nerve Damage
An individual who has diabetic neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is at increased risk for Charcot foot and tissue death (gangrene). Charcot foot can happen when diminished blood flow from PAD weakens the bones in the foot. When bones break from the forces that come with walking, the brain is unaware (on account of the nerve damage) and the individual will continue to perform normal activities. This creates a cycle wherein severe deformity results.
Another major complication for those who have diabetic neuropathy is that a cut, scrape, or other injury can open the door for a possible infection, which the body has a diminished capacity to fight. Left untreated, severe infection may set in and lead to gangrene. There is no way to reverse this damage and amputation is often required.