A doctor studies neuropathy

Can Neuropathy Be Reversed?

Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder in which damaged nerves no longer interact appropriately with receptors in the brain. Peripheral refers to the nerves affected—those on the outskirts of the body, rather than amongst the central nervous system.

Symptoms depend on the type of nerves affected: autonomic nerves control unconscious activities; sensory nerves interpret sensory information; and motor nerves control conscious movements. Although there seems to be some disagreement amongst experts as to whether or not neuropathy can be truly reversed, the answer is largely no. 

If peripheral neuropathy is detected early, there might be a possibility the damage can be undone. In some cases, neuropathy is caused by exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, like alcohol or medications. Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is of particular concern to healthcare professionals, as it is a common and potentially debilitating side effect of cancer treatments.

CIPN specifically may not be permanent. However, there is no guarantee for neuropathy caused by other chemicals—or most any of its other causes. Trauma caused by extreme injuries would be especially difficult to undo. Ultimately, although some experts argue that there is no return from neuropathy, others maintain that it might be possible if the patient is willing to put in the effort.

Last Updated: June 14, 2016