The millions of Americans with peripheral neuropathy (per 2012 statistics) include:

~ 20 million people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (source: US Dept. of Heath & Human Services)
~ 86 million with pre-diabetes who are at risk for developing DPN (source: American Diabetes Assoc);
~ 21.5 million pre-diabetics have peripheral neuopathy (source:Neuropathy in Pre Diabetes Study);
~ 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).

CMT affects all people, all races, and all ethnic groups, throughout the world, affecting about 2.8 million people. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), one of the many variants of peripheral neuropathy, named after the three doctors who first identified it, is one of the most common inherited nerve disorders. CMT affects an estimated 1 in 2,500 people in the United States and 2.6 million people worldwide, although experts believe the number could be much higher.

Although peripheral neuropathy has many causes, one of the leading causes is diabetes, a disease that is growing in epidemic proportions in the United States.  It is estimated that 60-70% of diabetics suffer from peripheral neuropathy.  That means that within the 29 million diabetics in the US, up to 20 million people suffer from peripheral neuropath as a result of diabetes.  In addition there are approximately 86 million people in the US that are considered pre-diabetic and up to 25% of pre diabetics have peripheral neuropathy, that is an additional 21.5 million people.  So just from the known cause of elevated or high glucose levels, 41.5 million Americans have peripheral neuropathy.  That translates close to 14% of the US population or 1 in every 7 people.  Now, if we then add in roughly 1 million people who have HIV induced PN, Chemotherapy induced PN , peripheral neuropathy caused by CMT  and finally those with idiopathic causes we end up with 42.5 million Americans suffering from peripheral neuropathy.

The calculated number of peripheral neuropathy sufferers in the U.S. may sound unrealistic but the fact is that about half of the 42.5 million people don’t even know they have peripheral neuropathy just yet.  They are at the early stages of the condition in which some of their toes are starting to go numb, they feel some minor level of discomfort to the degree that they don’t even mention the issue with their doctor at this point. That is why peripheral neuropathy is known as “the most common disease you’ve never heard of”. If you know someone that has the beginnings of PN symptoms then please get them to see their medical specialist right away in order to catch the peripheral neuropathic in its infancy.  You have a much better chance of nipping things in the bud if you medically go into prevention mode.  In most cases it will boil down to going on a diabetic diet plan and increasing exercise levels in order to significantly reduce carbohydrates which in turn will reduce the amount of glucose in your blood stream.  In in most people it is the glucose levels that are destructive to the capillaries in the feet which as they constrict, they can no longer supply the levels of oxygen and other nutrients to the nerve cells that are required and therein begins neuropathy, with the death of nerve cells.

 

A related interesting post you may want to read:  Why 42 Million Americans Suffer in Silence with Peripheral Neuropathy

Resources:
US National Libraty of Medicine; National Institutes of Health
US Department of Health & Human Services
American Diabetes Association
Neuropathy in Prediabetes Study
Centers for Disease Control
American Cancer Society