Nerve damage can happen due to many reasons but did you know that sometimes it can occur for no reason as well? In this article, we will be exploring all the main causes of Explainable and Unexplainable Nerve Damage. And, how to prevent and reverse possible nerve damage too.

Before jumping into the causes, let’s cover some background by defining what are nerves, their functions and most importantly, what we mean by nerve damage.

Written by Shani Liyanage, an Australia-base Registered Healthcare Practitioner with a Masters qualification from the University of Newcastle (Australia) and with decades of hands-on experience working for hospitals and in aged-care.


What is the Nervous System?

The nervous system is the network of nerve cells and fibers which transmits nerve impulses between parts of the body.

The nervous system, as you may know, is divided into two main parts.

1. The Central Nervous System (CNS)

This part of the nerve system consists of the brain and the spinal cord.

2. The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

This consists of the sensory nerve and sense organs.

What are the Functions of the Nerves?

There are three main functions of nerves in the body.

1. The autonomic or relay nerves

These nerves involve the transmitting of sensory signals to the Central Nervous System from receptors in the body.

2. The motor nerves

These nerves transmit signals from the Central Nervous System to effectors in the body, such as muscles and glands.

3. The sensory nerves

These nerves involve in collecting information from sensory receptors that monitor the body’s internal and external conditions.

Our nervous system, as you know, is involved in everything our body does, from regulating our breathing to controlling our muscles and their function to sensing heat and cold. It also can react in 1/100 of a second to a stimulus like a pain signal.

What is Nerve Damage?

Nerve damage is a situation whereby the nervous systems in the body which send signals around the body is destroyed.

Nerve damages are of two types

1. Unexplainable nerve damage

2. Explainable nerve damage

What is Unexplainable Nerve Damage?

For many people, the cause of nerve damage cannot be identified even after extensive testing. This is called unexplained nerve damage.

Unexplained nerve damage may still be due to nerve damage that occurred at some point, but current medical knowledge and testing cannot say how, when and why.

This type of nerve damage is likely to occur in people over age sixty(60).

What is an Explainable Nerve Damage?

When the cause of nerve damage is identifiable, that is known as explainable nerve damage. There are many reasons, let’s explore the key reasons.

  • Conditions of the spine, which compresses a spinal nerve

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Tip: Most spinal conditions like bulging discs can heal by its own, others can’t especially if they are due to a degenerative disease.

  • Cancers

To start with, cancer such as lymphoma or myeloma can cause nerve damage in multiple ways.

In instances where a tumour or cancer cause the nerve damage most likely the cancerous masses push against the nerves or crush them.

  • Poor nutrition

Nutritional deficiencies may affect nerve functions.

  • Chemotherapy side-effect

For example, in people fighting with breast cancer, one of the most common reasons for uncomfortable painful nerve damage is a result of chemotherapy. This type of nerve damage is commonly referred to as chemotherapy -associate- peripheral neuropathy.

In this case Chemotherapy drug, which circulated throughout the bloodstream to fight with cancer, cause damage to the nerves as well.

Chemotherapy medications that can cause damage to the nerves include carboplatin, abraxane and halaven. Also, oxaliplatin-induced in colorectal cancer patients damages the nerves.

Oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity is believed to ve the single primary dose-limiting factor in the treatment of colorectal cancer. The degree of neurotoxicity result from these treatments can be either acute (appear suddenly) and reversible, or observed as cumulative and chronic peripheral nerve damage leading to walking difficulties, tingling and numbness and increased pain sensation.

  • Illegal substances and alcohol abuse

Drugs and alcohol abuse is another cause of nerve damage.

Some people use drugs such as Indian hemp, cocaine or heroin to help them escape from the unpleasant realities of life. But escape does not remove the cause of the problem, instead of damaging the vital body organs and their function.

These drugs are called psychotropic drugs. They alter a person’s state of mind and practically their perception causing hallucinations.

The same drug may also affect that person’s judgement in dangerous situations so that he or she may ignore traffic dangers or jump from a high window believing that they can fly.

Alcohol is a powerful drug that adversely affects the working of the human brain. If it is taken in small quantities, it makes people socially more relaxed.

However, drinking a lot of alcohol makes people less aware of the world around them. They are more likely to commit crimes such as stealing, assaulting people or other antisocial acts. So people feel that taking alcohol helps them to get through the day when they are frustrated or depressed.

Alcohol makes people less able to solve their problems so acutely when they are under the influence of alcohol. A person regularly depends on alcohol to get through the day is described as an alcoholic. This person has an emotional illness, and for this reason, alcoholics are often treated in psychiatric hospitals.

  • Depression

Also, depression causes nerve damage.

Depression is a mental disorder in which the patient feels extremely unhappy and has no enthusiasm for anything. It is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide and often leads to psychiatric conditions.

It may have an internal origin or be a response to the environment.

Endogenous depression is caused by changes in the way in which the brain cell works. Example, change in the balance of the chemicals produced by synapses of nerve cells.

Reactive depression may be caused by stress such as the death of a loved one, a deep disappointment or frustration, extreme tiredness, and an inability to take any action can be a feature of depression.

Tip: Cefaly can help you with migraine pains.

  • Diabetes

Moreover, diabetes causes nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy.

The majority, almost 70% of people with diabetes, believe it or not, suffer from nerve damage. This becomes even more likely as diabetes progresses and with the time.

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Tip: In managing diabetes, regular monitoring of your blood glucose level is the key by sticking with one of the best glucose meters and A1c Meter.

Diabetes also causes nerve damage, and if you are at an early stage of diabetes, such as prediabetes, you should be mindful that people with diabetes should be very cautious about possible outcomes of nerve damage. For example, they are at a higher risk for diabetes-related wounds, accidents or injuries because of the lack of sensation at the feet (commonly).

Also, diabetes-related weakness and clumsiness may result in damage to the nerves of the skin and muscles.

  • As a side effect of your treatments

Furthermore, the side effects of some drugs can cause nerve damage.

Various substances that are taken into the body internationally or unintentionally can cause nerve damage.

Some of these medications, as noted early, include some chemotherapy for cancer. But, that’s not all. Antivirals such as drugs used for HIV, for example, can eventually lead to nerve damage.

How To Preven Possible Nerve Damage?

  • Exercise

Regularly exercising can reduce nerve damage.

When the body is regularly exercised, it may expand the blood vessels in the feet’s overtime, nourishing damaged nerves back to health.

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Tip: Getting a massage at home can make a big difference in your quality of life.

Usually, depending on your overall health conditions, exercise intensity is prescribed by your doctor. For example, if you have heart conditions, there is only much you can do as exercises. Ones the intensity is prescribed, the sessions are supervised by a physical therapist.

Of course, as you get used to an exercise routine, with the recommendation of your care plan, the therapists can increase strength, circulation and coordination.

Remember, it is important to keep as much muscle elasticity, strength and function as much as possible to help you improve from nerve damage.

  • Proper nutrition

Last but not least, correcting nutritional deficiencies may reduce nerve damages.

We all know that a healthy, food, diet habits together with regular exercise are essential for optimal health for anyone, but especially if you are with a progressive neurological disease leaving out key ingredients from your plate will be a drastic mistake.

For example, foods like magnesium and iron are key for nerve health.

  • Vitamin and Supplements

Vitamins and minerals are very important in the fight to reverse any nerve damage.

Saying so, for proper vitamin and supplement intake can also come from more fruits, vegetable intake, as well as high-quality plants, derived supplements.

I hope you see a pattern here, that after all the high-quality nutrition and eating habits are a must for the slew of the nutrients you need. It is not a coincidence, leafy greens, beans, fruits and vegetable should be a significant part of your eating life, if you wish support nerve healing and avoid nutrient deficiencies of any kind.

After all, it all comes to feed yourself well, then your body will take good care of not only you but also would prevent or slow any nerve damages. Who needs the hospital when you have a healthy kitchen?

How to Treat Nerve Damage? And, What are New Techniques?

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Tip: Stick with these supplements to help with diabetes-related nerve damage management.


In conclusion, the role of the physician is to find the cause for why nerve damage occurs example, discovering whether the problem is due to inflammation, disease such as diabetes or is congenital. Also, the right medications should be prescribed and also changed when the drugs start affecting the nervous system.

Then, it will be your duty to follow the doctor’s instructions and stick with a healthy lifestyle needs if you are keen on a healthier nerve system.


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