Have you ever experienced a pins-and-needles sensation in your hands and feet? If so, you may be experiencing a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This nerve disorder occurs when the peripheral nervous system becomes damaged. It can cause many symptoms, including pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Let’s take a closer look at this condition and identify what causes it and how it’s treated.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves leading from the brain and spinal cord, also known as peripheral nerves. When these nerves become damaged, they cannot transmit signals effectively, resulting in numbness, tingling, burning sensations, and even paralysis.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
The most common symptom of peripheral neuropathy is pain or discomfort in the extremities—often in both hands and feet. Other symptoms include tingling or numbness in the extremities; muscle weakness; burning sensation; loss of reflexes; change in skin temperature; decreased ability to feel vibration or touch; and sharp pains that may come and go quickly.
Some people may also experience problems with their vision, balance issues, coordination difficulties, trouble speaking or swallowing, bladder control problems, dizziness when standing up suddenly (the result of low blood pressure), or difficulty sleeping due to painful sensations in their feet and legs.
Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy has many possible causes, including diabetes, autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, vitamin deficiencies like B12 deficiency anemia or folate deficiency anemia, alcoholism or drug abuse, physical trauma such as carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury (RSI), chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer patients and certain medications used to treat HIV/AIDS patients. It can also be caused by genetic conditions like Charcot-Marie Tooth disease (CMT) or inherited metabolic disorders like Fabry Disease.
Treating Peripheral Neuropathy
The treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on its underlying cause. If it’s due to diabetes or another metabolic disorder, you’ll need to make lifestyle changes like eating healthier foods and exercising regularly to help manage your blood sugar levels.
If certain medications cause it, switching to different medications may help improve symptoms. Doctors may also recommend physical therapy to strengthen weakened muscles and improve balance and coordination. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to relieve pressure on affected nerves caused by scar tissue buildup due to chronic inflammation from autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Pain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids can also be used if necessary but should always be taken under the direction of a doctor to avoid any potential side effects from the long-term use of these drugs.
Peripheral neuropathy is a common condition affecting millions of people worldwide every year. While it can be caused by various conditions such as diabetes or infection, understanding its signs and symptoms is essential for seeking appropriate treatment options. With proper diagnosis and management techniques such as lifestyle changes or medications/alternative therapies like physical therapy or acupuncture, individuals suffering from peripheral neuropathy can find relief from their symptoms to live a more comfortable life.