What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a progressive and degenerative condition that leads to weakness, numbness, and pain that is often extreme and most often impacts feet, hands, and legs.
Peripheral nerves send vital messages to your spinal cord and your brain which then gets relayed to the rest of your entire body. If you have ANY level of damage to those nerves then the messages either won’t make it to your spinal cord or brain (that is why you feel numbness) or if only parts of the signal or messages are received then you may have, burning, tingling, ‘lightening strike’ pains and loss of control and other reflexes.
What Causes Damage To Your Peripheral Nerves?
Peripheral nerves damage has several causes stemming from something as seemingly harmless as your diet to a list of most common causes of nerve damage which includes, but is not limited to:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Traumatic injury
- Complications of surgery or prescription medicines
- Cancer treatments (chemotherapy)
- Exposure to Toxic Chemicals or Heavy Metals
- Autoimmune Disorders (lupus and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Vitamin Deficiencies
- Bone Marrow Disorders
- Kidney or Liver Disease
- Hereditary Disorders
- Tumors (malignant or benign)
This is not an exhaustive list. All too often the symptoms can gradually appear lulling you into not recognizing the seriousness of the condition. But it is also a condition that can appear suddenly, practically overnight, and starts its excruciating symptoms.
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms
Symptoms from peripheral neuropathy will vary and just because you don’t exhibit all of the symptoms does NOT mean that your condition is ‘better’ than someone who does have all of the symptoms.
You must understand this: NERVE damage is NOT GOOD – PERIOD!
A ‘Little nerve damage’ is BAD. A lot of nerve damage is BAD. It’s all BAD!
If your brain does not get the signals that you need the compounding effect when it is dealing with something like your foot is an open door to the reasons why you see people having amputations. This is not a statement to scare you. It is a statement of responsibility to let you know that ANY nerve damage if left untreated can lead to consequences neither you nor your loved ones want.
Peripheral Neuropathy Impacts your Motor Nerves, Autonomic Nerves, & Sensory Nerves. Each Type When Damaged Will Impact You In Different Ways
You by now should understand all nerve damage is bad, but how does the respective nerve damage show up in your body? In other words, what are the types of nerves in your body, and when damages what are the symptoms?
Your movement or Motor Nerves are the nerves that take the message from the brain to say ‘Hey move the right leg’. So if your motor nerves are even slightly damaged it can result in severe consequences. For example, if you have a slight stumble on a carpet and your reflexes don’t get the signal fast enough you could easily fall and hit your head.
Think about this, what if you’re carrying an infant and this happens, which is of course not your fault, but if your brain tries to send the message and nerve damage in your motor nerves does not send the message to the right muscles fast enough, well you can imagine the consequences. That is why we say even a little damage is BAD.
Typical Motor Nerve damage symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Weak muscles & atrophy
- Hard to move your hands, legs, arms
- muscle cramps, spasms, or strange uncontrollable twitching
- Slower reflexes
Autonomic nerves control your critical involuntary body functions which keep you alive and healthy such as sweating to cool your body, your bladder to remove wastes from your body, your heart rate, blood pressure, and more.
When your autonomic nerves are affected by peripheral neuropathy, you may experience symptoms including:
- Loss of control in your bowels and bladder
- Rapid or slow or irregular heart rate
- Irregular and excessive sweating
- Difficulty in swallowing food or liquids
The involuntary and semi-involuntary autonomic nervous system dramatically impacts the quality of your life as well as your loved ones.
Sensory nerves give you the ability to feel hot, cold, warm, or sharp objects or liquids. These ‘sensations’ get triggered by your sensory nerves.
As you can imagine, if you have a cut and can’t feel it, then it can become infected and things go downhill from there. The damaged sensory nerve did not send the ‘pain signal’ to the brain like it is supposed to you you won’t take the appropriate action and that is how insidious nerve damage can really wreak havoc on your body.
The types of symptoms that may occur when you have peripheral neuropathy that affects your sensory nerves include but is not limited to:
- Feet tingling or numbness
- Hand tingling or numbness
- Feet burning
- Hands burning
- Decreased sensations in your feet or hands
- Extra sensitivity to touch
- Loss of less coordination
- Inability to feel hot and cold or even pain.