Polyneuropathy is the most common type of peripheral neuropathy affecting diabetics, prediabetics, alcoholics, people with HIV disease, and people who have had adverse effects from undergoing chemotherapy. It is a medical condition characterized by burning, tingling, numbness, and pain in the feet and legs. The symptoms usually start in the toes and over time ascend up the feet and into the legs and hands. The symptoms generally affect both the left and right sides of the body in a symmetrical manner.
The terms neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, and polyneuropathy are often used interchangeably. A more correct description of these terms would be as follows:
Neuropathy: damage to or impaired functioning of the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves.
Peripheral neuropathy: damage to or impaired functioning of one or more peripheral nerves.
Polyneuropathy: the most common type of peripheral neuropathy. People with polyneuropathy have burning, tingling, numbness and pain in the feet and legs. Symptoms usually start in the toes and over time ascend up the feet and into the legs and hands. Symptoms affect the left and right sides of the body in a symmetrical manner.
Outside of the medical literature, the term polyneuropathy is rarely used. It is my experience that most physicians and non-physicians use either the term neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy when describing what is technically polyneuropathy.