Neuropathy is caused by damage to your peripheral nerves. This damage typically causes numbness, pain, and weakness in your hands, feet, and other areas of your body. Several different things may lead to neuropathy. Diseases, disorders, and risk factors increase your chances of being diagnosed with this painful condition. Regardless of risk factors and causes, most people who suffer from neuropathy just want the pain to stop.
Epic Healthcare in Highland Village, Texas has treated several patients who suffer from this condition. Our goal is to help educate patients while relieving pain. Informing yourself about neuropathy is the first step in treating the condition and finding relief.
Signs and Symptoms of Neuropathy
Neuropathy is a condition that damages or disrupts your peripheral nervous system. This part of your nervous system sends information from your central nervous system such as your brain and spinal cord, to the other parts of your body. Most people who suffer with this condition experience pain described as burning, tingling, or stabbing.
There are a number of things that can lead to neuropathy including injury, infection, toxins, metabolic issues, and genetic causes. Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common causes of the condition. In most cases, neuropathy is treatable.
The exact symptoms you experience depend on the nerves affected by your condition. The nerves in your peripheral system are classified into three primary groups. Sensory nerves relay sensations from the skin back to the central nervous system. These sensations include temperature, touch, vibration, and pain. Motor nerves are the nerves that help control muscle movement. Autonomic nerves control various functions throughout your body including blood pressure, digestion, bladder function, and heart rate.The set of nerves affected by neuropathy can lead to different symptoms.
When sensory nerves are affected then you will experience numbness or tingling in your feet or hands. This can often spread to reach your legs and arms as well. You may also experience different pain sensations such as burning, freezing, stabbing, or throbbing pain. Neuropathy of your sensory nerves may also make you extremely sensitive to touch.
Neuropathy of your motor nerves can lead to a lack of coordination. This can also include muscle weakness, paralysis, and lead to falls. Autonomic nerve neuropathy may lead to intolerance to heat, bowel, bladder, and other digestive problems. You may also experience changes in blood pressure which could leave you dizzy or lightheaded.
Causes and Risk Factors for Neuropathy
Depending on what’s causing your condition, you may experience a mixture of symptoms if more than one nerve system is affected. While there’s not any specific disease that causes neuropathy, there are a number of causes that can contribute to the condition. Vitamin deficiencies can lead to this painful condition. The B vitamins such as B-1, B-6, and B-12 along with vitamin E and niacin are all important for the health of your nerves. People who make poor dietary choices such as those with alcoholism often fall victim to this condition.
Other diseases and disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, necrotizing vasculitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and diabetes often play a part in developing neuropathy. Inherited conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease can also lead to the condition. Bacterial and viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus, leprosy, Lyme disease, shingles, hepatitis C, diphtheria and HIV can also lead to neuropathy.
Some medications such as those used in chemotherapy can cause neuropathy. Other toxic substances including heavy metals can also contribute to the condition. Even tumors, both malignant and benign, can affect the nerves and lead to the painful condition. Bone cancer, lymphoma, and amyloidosis are another cause of neuropathy along with kidney disease, liver disease, and hypothyroidism.
Trauma from a vehicle accident or sports injury can also injure your nerves and result in this painful condition. And, unfortunately, in some cases there is no clear cause as to why a patient developed neuropathy. Cases without a clear cause are idiopathic.
What to Watch for When Suffering from Neuropathy
It can be difficult to know when your neuropathy is severe enough that you should see a doctor. You should seek medical attention right away if you have unusual or severe tingling, pain, or weakness in your hands or feet. An early diagnosis and treatment plan will give you the best opportunity for controlling symptoms and preventing further nerve damage.
Check your feet and other areas that experience numbness often. It’s possible that they can become injured without you knowing due to the lack of sensation. It’s also important to treat minor injuries before they have the chance to become infected. This is especially important for patients who also have diabetes.
When inflicted with this dangerous and painful condition, it’s important that you are aware of your surroundings. You can easily experience burns and other skin trauma when you have a lack of feeling in various parts of your hands and feet. The lack of sensation makes it difficult to gauge temperature changes or other injuries that you may incur.
If you suspect that you are experiencing neuropathy then make an appointment with your healthcare provider. It’s a good idea to be evaluated to see if there are any underlying conditions that are responsible for the symptoms you are experiencing.