It can make it difficult to perform fine motor tasks with your hands, such as buttoning a shirt, lifting small objects, and can cause problems with balance or walking. For people whose symptoms continue after treatment is complete, they usually get better or go away within 6 to 12 months. 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.
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. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products.
Advertising revenue supports our nonprofit mission. In some situations, the symptoms of neuropathy may decrease but not go away completely. More than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified, each with its own symptoms and prognosis. Symptoms vary depending on the type of motor, sensory, or autonomic nerves that are damaged.
If your doctor suspects that you may have a form of peripheral neuropathy, he or she may refer you to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in nerve diseases. The neurologist (or your own doctor) will start by taking a history of your symptoms and examining you for signs of muscle weakness, numbness, and altered reflexes. You may need blood and urine tests to check for diabetes, vitamin or metabolic deficiencies, and the presence of any underlying diseases or genetic defects that may be affecting nerve function. You'll also need to take a serious look at your alcohol use and the medications you're taking.
Early diagnosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathy is important, because peripheral nerves have a limited ability to regenerate and treatment can only stop progression, not reverse damage. If you have a severe disability, you may need physical therapy to help retain strength and prevent muscle cramps and spasms. Medicines to control symptoms include duloxetine (Cymbalta), gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), or some anti-epileptic medicines. For a long time, doctors thought that nerve damage from peripheral neuropathy was also irreversible, at least when using the treatments available at that time.