The prognosis for peripheral neuropathy varies depending on the underlying cause and which nerves have been damaged. Some cases may improve over time if the underlying cause is treated, while in some people the damage may be permanent or gradually worsen over time. Some peripheral neuropathies develop slowly, over months or years, while others develop more quickly and continue to get worse. There are more than 100 types of neuropathies, and each type can develop differently.
How the condition progresses and how quickly symptoms begin can vary greatly depending on the type of nerve or nerves damaged and the underlying cause of the condition. The good news for people living with neuropathy is that it is sometimes reversible. Simply by addressing contributing causes, such as underlying infections, exposure to toxins, or vitamin and hormone deficiencies, the symptoms of neuropathy often resolve on their own. The effective prognosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathy largely depends on the cause of nerve damage.
For example, peripheral neuropathy caused by vitamin deficiency can be treated, even reversed, with vitamin therapy and an improved diet. Similarly, nerve damage caused by alcohol abuse can often be stopped and improved by avoiding alcohol. Peripheral neuropathy caused by toxic substances or medications can often be corrected in the same way. When neuropathy is related to diabetes, careful control of blood sugar levels can slow its progression and slow symptoms.
Peripheral nerves have a great healing capacity. Although it may take months, a recovery can occur. However, in some situations, the symptoms of neuropathy may decrease but not go away completely. For example, nerve damage caused by radiation often does not recover well.
Neuropathy caused by chemotherapy is also difficult to cure, and recovery can take from 18 months to 5 years or more. During recovery from platinum-induced neuropathy, patients may suffer from increased symptoms. The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary depending on the type you have and the part of your body affected. Symptoms can range from tingling or numbness in a certain part of the body to more serious effects, such as burning pain or paralysis.
NINDS-funded research ranges from clinical studies of the genetics and natural history of hereditary neuropathies to discoveries of new causes and treatments for neuropathy, to basic scientific research on the biological mechanisms responsible for chronic neuropathic pain. The Inherited Neuropathies Consortium (INC), a group of academic medical centers, patient support organizations, and clinical research resources dedicated to conducting clinical research on Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and improving care for people with the disease, seeks to better characterize the natural background study of several different forms of neuropathy and identify genes that modify the clinical characteristics of these disorders.