Peripheral neuropathy describes damage to the peripheral nervous system, the vast communications network that transmits information from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to every other part of the body. Peripheral nerves also send sensory information back to the brain and spinal cord, such as a message that the feet are cold or a finger is burned. Damage to the peripheral nervous system interferes with these vital connections. Like poor connection to a cell phone tower, peripheral neuropathy distorts and sometimes interrupts messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
Patients with peripheral neuropathy often experience chronic tingling, numbness, weakness, or burning pain. They often find it difficult to walk, sense if they are going down stairs properly, know if they have injured the affected area and generally are miserable because of the chronic pain they often experience.
There is a ‘road map’ in the brain of your entire body. Every body area (foot, hand, face, etc.) is represented in a part of the brain called the parietal lobe. If poor nerve signals come into the brain because of peripheral neuropathy, this can lead to problems in the brain itself.
Although you might start out with peripheral neuropathy, the longer you have this condition the more likely you’ll experience issues higher up into areas of the brain. That is why damage to the peripheral nerves is just part of the story. And why only treating the local area can lead to discouraging short-term results.