Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Depending on the nerve system affected, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can vary greatly. The body is full of sensory nerves that detect vibration, position, and touch, and which can be severely affected when damaged. Damage to these nerve bundles impairs the ability of afflicted people to recognize what small objects are just by touching them. The fibers that make up the nerves are enclosed in a coating, or sheath, called myelin which protects them. When damage occurs, this enclosure slowly disappears, exposing and destroying the nerve, and rendering the patient unable to feel heat, cold or sharpness.
People that are affected by sensory damage may often feel that they aren’t touching something when they actually are, they may not be able to detect vibrations, and in some cases cannot determine the position of something they are touching. A sense of numbness in the hands and feet is always present and may cause problems with sleep if the numbness is combined with the pain that often comes with this sort of damage. Sensory nerve damage pain is caused by the skin becoming oversensitized, even to the point that a light sheet on the body can be painful and irritating.
Wounds or cuts that cannot be detected except by sight is a strong symptom of peripheral neuropathy. Cuts or wounds cannot be felt either when the wound occurs or when an infection follows. Some people have had to have limbs amputated due to this symptom.
Another type of nerve damage within the overall classification of peripheral neuropathy is motor neuropathy, which often results in cramps, twitching, bone loss, and muscle weakness. Changes to the skin, nails or hair can also be a result of the physical changes caused by the condition, and the changes often take place over a long period of time. Motor neuropathy will also affect the sufferer’s ability to move efficiently and will sometimes cause a vertigo-like sensation. This can be especially dangerous in the elderly because it can contribute to falls resulting in broken bones or damage to the brain.
Symptoms of autonomic neuropathy can affect the heart, gastrointestinal system, and can result in a loss of bladder control or incontinence. This type of neuropathy can be the most dangerous and life-threatening because it affects major organs. The heartbeat can become irregular and breathing may be impaired by the damaging effect on the nerves controlling those organs. People with this ailment may need emergency medical services if these symptoms occur. Dizziness, hypotension, or fainting can happen if someone with this sort of neuropathy stands up from a seated position suddenly.
Peripheral neuropathy can present as a variety of symptoms, most commonly pain or burning in the nerves affected by the ailment. More serious symptoms such as those related to autonomic or motor neuropathy can be more dangerous because they affect the ability of the person to detect the position of their body, contributing to falls, or impairment of vital organs such as the heart, kidney, and lungs.
Pacific Medical Care in downtown San Diego offers top neuropathy treatment with experienced foot and ankle specialists. The San Diego podiatrists are extremely skilled and offer comprehensive options for pain relief!