Distal Axonopathy Causes and Symptoms

Distal Axonopathy: Most Common Symptoms and Causes

Distal Axonopathy: Most Common Symptoms and Causes

When the peripheral nerves stop functioning properly, a condition called distal axonopathy happens. Its name comes from the fact that it affects the parts of the axon that are the most distant from the center of the nerve. However, over time, the condition may progress, ending up affecting the whole nerve. That’s why it is crucial to react as soon as first signs of distal axonopathy appear.

Speaking of which, distal axonopathy symptoms are not that hard to spot. This is rather good news as if the condition is discovered in time, the cause of it can be treated. If diagnosed timely, the nerve damage caused by distal axonopathy can be minimal. Furthermore, if the cause of the condition is treated successfully, the nerve can heal completely as if nothing had happened!

For this reason, it is extremely important to know how to recognize the symptoms of distal axonopathy. To help you out, here are some early warning signs that you might be affected by this issue!


The feeling of “needles and pins” in your limbs is a sure sign that something’s not quite right with your nerves. If the feeling is long-lasting, there is a big chance that your peripheral nerves are affected with distal axonopathy. Apart from the “pricking” sensation, you might also experience the sensation of extremities “falling asleep” or in rare cases, the feeling of bugs crawling under your skin.

Ataxia & Dystaxia

If you’re having problems with walking, the culprit might be distal axonopathy. Ataxia, as a condition in which coordination of muscle movements is impaired, is a common result of untreated distal axonopathy. But, there’s a warning sign that ataxia is on its way – a condition called dyspraxia. This is basically a mild version of ataxia, which appears in the early stages. The most common symptom of this condition is unsteady gait, followed by shaky limb movements.

Muscle Atrophy

Distal axonopathy is far from being the most common cause of muscle atrophy. Still, a decrease in the muscle mass often accompanies this condition. This is because if the nerve that controls muscle movements is damaged, muscle wasting is likely to occur. The reason is simple – when the muscle is not used, it weakens.


One of the results of weakened muscles is the condition called hammertoe. What this basically means is that the toe muscles lose the strength to keep it in a normal position. The result is that the toe curls as if it was hit with a hammer, hence the name of the condition. Hammertoe is often the case with the patients diagnosed with distal axonopathy, as the toes are the most peripheral part of the body.


This is a condition in which the patient’s spine curves to one side. This condition mostly comes as a result of environmental factors, especially in those with genetic predispositions. But, in some cases, scoliosis can be caused by diseases like Marfan syndrome or cerebral palsy. Furthermore, this condition is sometimes caused by distal axonopathy.

Treating Distal Axonopathy

Treating distal axonopathy means treating the cause of it. If the cause is removed, the nerve might be able to regenerate and function normally again. This is why it is crucial to contact your doctor as soon as you spot any of the symptoms of this condition. If discovered early, the cause of it might be easy to deal with. Supplements like Nerve Renew are well known to help with this disease. Furthermore, the cause of this issue can be some serious disease, so discovering it on time might mean saving your life!

Acquired Causes

In most cases, distal axonopathy comes as a result of diseases the patients acquire over time. One of the most common causes is diabetes. Increased blood sugar levels can cause damage to the nerve, something which usually starts at the peripheral parts of the body, such as the toes and fingers. In fact, distal axonopathy is very usual among diabetics. It’s even considered to be a warning sign that the blood sugar levels are not in order.

Another reason why distal axonopathy might develop is that the patient suffers from a connective tissue disease. Kidney problems can also trigger this condition, while it’s not unusual for certain toxins to cause distal axonopathy as well. In fact, distal axonopathy is commonly caused by harsh drugs, such as the ones used for chemotherapy. The condition may also come as a result of extensive alcohol abuse, or even malnutrition.

Hereditary Causes of Distal Axonopathy

Although in a large majority of cases this condition is caused by acquired diseases, sometimes the reason lies in an inherited health problem. One of the hereditary neuropathies that cause this disorder is Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, better known as CMT. Unfortunately, as of today, there is no ultimate cure for CMT, which manifests itself in clawed toes and high instep.

HNPP (Hereditary Neuropathy with Liability to Pressure Palsy) is another hereditary cause of distal axonopathy. In the case of HNPP, the distal axonopathy symptoms are severe and can last for a long time. When triggered with applied pressure, the tingling sensation and pain can last for days or even weeks. Although there is not yet a cure for this disease, proper treatment can curb down its symptoms significantly.

Whether the cause of distal axonopathy is hereditary or acquired, in order to treat the disorder it’s important to diagnose it in time. For this reason, the best advice we can give you is not to skip doctor’s appointments!


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