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First-Time National Poll Confirms Neuropathy Hits Millions in Their Prime

Data shows 82% of patients have neuropathy onset during their 30s-60s

NEW YORK, May 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new national Neuropathy Association poll of peripheral neuropathy patients finds that the majority of respondents had their neurological disease begin during their prime adult years, with 82% experiencing neuropathy's onset between the ages of 30-69. "Peripheral neuropathy does not discriminate: it affects all ages, all types of people," observes Tina Tockarshewsky, president and CEO of The Neuropathy Association. "However, our survey shows neuropathy strikes most patients in the prime of their lives, when they are building their families, careers, and futures."


"With the potential for millions of active adults to suffer from progressive chronic pain and possible disability, we are leaving the U.S. unprepared to face a major public health crisis if healthcare providers, the media and public policy officials continue to ignore the inadequacy of medical resources and research funding for neuropathy. Neuropathy is taking an immeasurable toll on Americans' quality of life and generating extreme social and medical cost burdens," adds Tockarshewsky.

For nearly 15 years, The Neuropathy Association has been an active national patient advocacy organization working to change misconceptions about this progressive, chronic neurological disease. May 11-15 marks the fifth annual National Neuropathy Week, an event launched by The Neuropathy Association to raise awareness about neuropathy and its warning signs.

Peripheral neuropathy, or "nerve damage," impacts over 20 million Americans, making it one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S. Neuropathy results from injury to the peripheral nerves, disrupting the body's ability to communicate with its muscles, organs and tissues. Most Americans do not recognize neuropathy's symptoms, which include weakness, numbness, tingling and pain, especially in the hands and feet. If experiencing these symptoms, patients need to consult with a neurologist. With early diagnosis, neuropathy can often be controlled and some types can be cured. If ignored, symptoms can intensify to loss of sensation, unremitting pain, or disability. Too often neuropathy is discovered only after causing irreversible nerve damage.

The Neuropathy Association's national survey of 1,300 patients asked about the age when their neuropathy began, revealing:

  • 3 percent had their illness start in their 20s;
  • 27 percent had their illness start in their 30s-40s;
  • 55 percent had their illness start in their 50s-60s; and
  • 15 percent had their illness start in their 70s-80s.

Age of Neuropathy Onset

This survey was complemented by a second national survey which asked 1,000 patients to identify their specific type of neuropathy. While there are over 100 known types of peripheral neuropathy, 52% of the patients responded their neuropathy was "idiopathic," meaning of no known cause. Other types noted were:

  • 15 percent had diabetic neuropathy;
  • 12 percent had an autoimmune-related neuropathy;
  • 6 percent had a hereditary neuropathy;
  • 4 percent had a chemotherapy-related neuropathy;
  • 4 percent had a trauma-induced neuropathy; and
  • 7 percent had a neuropathy related to other sources such as toxin-induced, nutritional deficiencies, gastro-intestinal disorders, metabolic diseases, or infectious diseases such as HIV or Lyme.

Type of Neuropathy

"Neuropathy is often misrepresented as only being diabetes-related. However, this survey demonstrates that for every diabetic neuropathy patient, there are about six patients suffering with various neuropathies, including some for which there is no known cause and, consequently, no known treatment. Right now, we see great hope in our research community: we are on the verge of real progress in many areas. However, neither funding nor public attention is being directed towards getting these researchers across the finish line," notes Dr. Thomas H. Brannagan, III, medical advisor for The Neuropathy Association.

"The neuropathy patient community has only three FDA-approved treatments for three types of neuropathy, faces increasing Medicare reimbursement restrictions, and receives inadequate levels of federal research funding. With millions suffering, this is an unacceptable public health state of affairs," Tockarshewsky emphasizes. "Supporting neuropathy research would bring better treatment options and cures to millions of neuropathy patients. Doing so would also help a range of other patients, including those with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and cancer. Americans must demand cures for neuropathy."

About The Neuropathy Association

The Neuropathy Association is the leading national nonprofit organization providing neuropathy patient support and education, advocating for patient's interests, and promoting research into the causes of and cures for peripheral neuropathies. The Association currently has twelve neuropathy medical Centers of Excellence at major university hospitals across the country in order to serve patients with neuropathy, provide treatment and conduct research, including:

  • Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center (Phoenix, AZ)
  • University of California at San Francisco
  • Good Samaritan Hospital (Los Angeles, CA)
  • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (Miami, FL)
  • University of Florida and Shands Jacksonville
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO)
  • Columbia University Medical Center (New York, NY)
  • Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University (New York, NY)
  • Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
  • University of Kansas (Kansas City, KS)
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

The organization works to connect patients with one another through its active network of members, regional chapters, medical Centers of Excellence and 135 patient support groups. For more information, please visit

SOURCE The Neuropathy Association
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