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What is peripheral neuropathy?

I am a retired industrial worker who was poisoned on the job by heavy metal contamination, and recently I was having a lot of difficulties with my arms and legs. The doctor said it looks like ""peripheral neuropathy"" and I don't understand this. What is it? What is the cure?
The nerves that travel from the spinal cord innervate the muscles and sensory endings of the rest of the body. There are many causes for damage to these nerves which can lead to a variety of symptoms including numbness, tingling, loss of muscle mass, weakness, and changes in your reflexes. Heavy metal intoxication is a definite cause for peripheral neuropathy. Other causes include poorly controlled diabetes, B12 deficiency, shingles, alcohol abuse, vascular problems, autoimmune diseases, and certain medications. Depending on the cause of the peripheral neuropathy, it may or may not be reversible. If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, you may have decreased sensation in your legs which can lead to irritation and damage to the skin on your feet. If left unchecked, this cause lead to very severe problems including infections, skin breakdown and necrosis. If you are suffering from peripheral neuropathy, make sure that you visit a podiatrist regularly to ensure that your are not developing ulcerations. Your primary care doctor will be better able to evaluate your concerns and your medical history. Based on their findings, your PCP may want to send off more studies, prescribe medications to improve your level of comfort, or arrange a nerve biopsy to better assess the cause of your peripheral neuropathy.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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