What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral Neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nerves. It causes numbness, tingling, pain, burning and weakness. These symptoms usually attack nerves in the feet and hands. However it can also affect other areas and body functions including digestion, urination, and circulation.
The peripheral nervous system sends information from the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of the body. The peripheral nerves also send sensory information to the central nervous system and the brain.
Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, surgeries, metabolic problems, inherited causes, and exposure to toxins. The most common of these causes is diabetes. Diabetes makes up 30% of all cases of Neuropathy.
People with peripheral neuropathy generally describe the pain as stabbing, burning, or tingling (pins and needles.) Which causes many people to suffer from cramping and balance problems. Therefore, they are not conducting the correct signals to the brain. Because of the damage to the nerves, the signals are misfiring and giving the wrong signals, and this is where people feel symptoms.
In most cases, patients with Neuropathy are given medications to mask the symptoms instead of treating the problem. There are two major problems that need to be treated. First, the damaged blood vessels that cause degeneration to the nerve and then the nerve is not conducting the proper signals to the brain.
Every nerve in your peripheral system has a specific function, each symptom depends on the actual nerves affected.
- Sensory nerves that receive sensation, such as temperature, pain, vibration or touch
- Motor nerves that control muscle movement
- Autonomic nerves that control functions such as blood pressure, perspiration, heart rate, digestion and bladder function
Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy might include:
- Gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your feet or hands, which can spread upward into your legs and arms
- Sharp, jabbing, throbbing or burning pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Pain, usually sharp, shooting pains
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling as if you’re wearing gloves or socks when you’re not
- Paralysis if motor nerves are affected
If autonomic nerves are affected, signs and symptoms might include:
- Heat intolerance
- Bowel, bladder or digestive problems
- Drops in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness
When medications are used to treat the symptom, the problem continues to get worse whether the symptoms are masked with the drugs or not. Thus, the problem continues to progress with less blood flow to the nerves, which means more damage to the nerves. The nerves need to be stimulated while they still have blood flow to help the nerves heal. These nerves need several different treatments that we offer at Innovative Medical Center. For more information, please call (559) 222-5362 and ask about our upcoming Neuropathy Seminars.
Joe O. Case Manager