Peripheral neuropathy is a common problem, partly because it can be
caused by a large number of physical ailments including high blood
pressure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and some toxins and even
some medications. There is no one way that nerves are damaged. They
may be compressed because of pressure from surrounding tissues (or
even a cast or the weight of the body, if a person is bedridden).
They may be physically broken if there has been some kind of trauma to
the nerve. They could not be "firing" properly because of a chemical
imbalance that restricts the sodium-potassium channel. Treatment, of
course, depends on the cause for the nerve damage - and may be
complete recovery or only palliation of symptoms.
This is all to say that there are no general answers to your specific
questions. You need to have a doctor diagnose why she has the
neuropathy. This will then lead you to a better understanding of what
has happened to the nerves and how the neuropathy can be treated or
I think you should start with the Adam Health Encyclopedia article on
This article has quite a lot of detail on causes and treatments, and
links to other diseases in the encyclopedia.
Here are some additional websites for you:
Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet
This fact sheet from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders
and Stroke goes into more detail about how neuropathies are classified
(there's not a scale, per se, but there are more than 100
classifications), what causes and what can cure the disease, and what
research is being done on peripheral nerve damage.
Mayo Clinic: Peripheral Neuropathy
I really like the Mayo Clinic's disease and disorder guides because
they are both very detailed and very understandable. You'll see
different sections for diagnosis, treatment, and self-care among
others. The Mayo Clinic also has a quick handout on "Burning
Sensation in Feet": http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=HQ00362
I got the above sites by going to the National Library of Medicine's
MedlinePlus health topic for Peripheral Nerve Disorders
Librarians at the NLM gather websites from trusted nonprofit and
government organizations and organizes those websites according to the
disease that they talk about. You can trust these sites to have good,
unbiased information. I should note that I do NOT work for either the
NLM or any of the groups represented in Medlineplus.
Please let me know if I can further help you with this question!