Peripheral Neuropathy Definition and Prevalence
Peripheral Neuropathy definition: any disorder or condition that affects the peripheral nerves.
Peripheral neuropathy is actually quite common. The prevalence is estimated to be about 3-8% of the general population and affects about 20 million people in the United States.
Peripheral neuropathy can be clarified further with a better understanding of peripheral nerves.
Peripheral nerves function as part of the human nervous system. They refer to any nerve outside the brain or spinal cord and are made up of many tiny nerve cells called neurons. These neurons can be either sensory or motor, and are like relay messengers that pass along information from the spinal cord to other parts of your body, and vice versa. For example, if you were to accidentally touch a hot stove, the sensory neurons in your hand “senses” the pain, and would send information to your brain that you are touching something hot and painful. Your brain would then send information back to your motor neurons in your hand, telling them to move from the stove. The whole process happens in just a fraction of a second. This is how a normal nerve relay works.
When there is neuropathy however, signals of this elaborate nerve relay system often gets misinterpreted. This results in many of the signs and symptoms that are seen with peripheral neuropathy.