Neuropathy is a condition that affects approximately 8 percent of people over the age of 55 and 2.4 percent of people of all ages. This often-painful condition is defined by damage to the peripheral nerves and is most frequently associated with Type II Diabetes.
However, neuropathy is also inherited in relatively rare cases. For instance, about one in every 2,500 people are born with a condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which is a neurological disorder characterized by weakness of the small muscles in the feet and lower legs.
Other causes of neuropathy include kidney disease, liver disorders, exposure to toxic levels of lead, arsenic, mercury, and thallium, and certain drugs used to combat cancer, viruses, and bacterial infections.
Conditions affecting the metabolism, such as hyperthyroidism, may also result in the development of neuropathy. No matter what the cause, those suffering from neuropathy experience pain primarily in the fingers, toes, legs, and arms, and the feeling is often compared to being of pins and needles.