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Neuropathy in U.S. Skyrocketing

New York, NY (PRWEB) May 13, 2013

According to The Neuropathy Association, there are now 15-18 million Americans with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) due to the increasing prevalence of diabetes. 60-70% of the 25.8 million adults and children in the U.S. with diabetes have DPN.* The growing DPN statistic significantly raises the overall number of people with neuropathy in the U.S.

“In the past, we estimated that there were 20 million Americans with all forms of peripheral neuropathy,” notes Tina Tockarshewsky, president and CEO of The Neuropathy Association. “However, with DPN numbers alone now at nearly 20 million, it’s time to acknowledge the need for better data quantifying this epidemic. We are all gravely underestimating the millions of people struggling and suffering with neuropathies. It’s time to ‘do the math’ when counting neuropathy’s prevalence, and finally address it as the public health emergency it is.”

May 13-17 is the ninth annual Neuropathy Awareness Week, an event launched by The Neuropathy Association to promote greater attention to and prevention of this growing national epidemic. For 18 years, The Neuropathy Association has been an active national patient advocacy organization working to change perceptions about this progressive, chronic and often extremely painful neurological disease.

Peripheral neuropathy, or “peripheral nerve damage,” impacts well over 20 million Americans (at least 1 in 15), making it one of the most common chronic diseases and a leading cause of adult disability. Neuropathy disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its muscles, organs, and tissues. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain often beginning in the hands and feet. With early diagnosis, it can often be controlled and quality of life restored. If ignored, symptoms can intensify to loss of sensation, weakness, unremitting pain, and/or disability.

Of the over 100 known types of neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy represents over a third of all neuropathies, making diabetes the leading cause. A third of neuropathies are “idiopathic” (unknown cause). Other neuropathies include autoimmune-related, hereditary, cancer or chemotherapy-related, entrapment or trauma-related, and neuropathies related to causes such as toxin-induced, nutritional deficiencies, gastro-intestinal disorders, metabolic diseases, or infectious diseases (including Lyme and HIV/AIDS).

The millions of Americans with peripheral neuropathy include:

  •     15-18 million with diabetic peripheral neuropathy;
  •     79 million with pre-diabetes who are at risk for developing DPN (source: CDC);
  •     230,000-575,000 with HIV-neuropathy, or 20-50% of HIV patients (source: CDC);
  •     420,000 with chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, or 30% of cancer survivors (source: American Cancer Society);
  •     125,000 with Charcot-Marie Tooth hereditary neuropathy (source: CDC).

“Living with neuropathy can cause tremendous frustration for patients. Many feel isolated because relatives, loved ones, and often even caregivers are not familiar with neuropathy or neuropathic pain,” observes Dr. Thomas Brannagan, III, The Neuropathy Association’s medical advisor.

“Living with chronic pain impacts a patient’s day-to-day functionality,” shares Dr. Sudhir Diwan, chair of The Neuropathy Association’s neuropathic pain management medical advisory council. “Patients get caught up in a vicious cycle of co-morbid conditions connected to their underlying neuropathic pain, resulting in physical and psychological problems including impaired concentration, anxiety, depression, a decline in cognitive abilities, and sleep difficulties. Lack of sleep can, in turn, cause irritability and increased pain sensitivity.”

“Neuropathy’s prevalence is escalating at an alarming rate. Awareness must increase to ensure earlier diagnosis. Until we find the disease-modifying treatments and cures that currently don’t exist, our only cure is prevention,” adds Tockarshewsky. “Additionally, ‘doing the math’ to calculate neuropathy’s insidiousness must also factor the economic burden with the human toll. Medical costs and workplace productivity losses are also increasing. Neuropathy and neuropathic pain patients are often high health care system users as they seek relief from persistent suffering. Those debilitated by neuropathy or coping with chronic pain are challenged with working full-time, and may become unemployable or stay under-employed.”

About The Neuropathy Association

Founded in 1995, The Neuropathy Association is the leading national nonprofit organization providing neuropathy patient support, education, advocacy, and the promotion of research into the causes of and cures for peripheral neuropathies through its nationwide network of members, regional chapters, 15 medical Centers of Excellence, and 150 patient support groups.


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