Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition that occurs when the nerves in the body become damaged. This nerve damage mainly occurs in the hands and feet, but it can develop virtually anywhere in the body. There are several different reasons why you may develop peripheral neuropathy. The most common cause is diabetes. The nerves just gradually become damaged over time as the body deals with uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Autoimmune diseases, infections and tumors can also severely weaken the nerves. Since it is impossible to reverse nerve damage, it is very important to spot the primary symptoms. This is the only way to slow down the progression of the condition. These are the five most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Numb Hands and Feet
Since the nerves in the hands and feet are the most commonly damaged, this is where you will likely see the first signs of your peripheral neuropathy. Once the hand and foot nerves are damaged, you will start to gradually lose sensation in them. The symptoms will start out as occasional tingling in the hands and feet. The tingling will gradually get worse over time until your hands and feet are numb. If the nerve damage is bad enough, then this numbness will be constant. You will have to learn how to operate without being able to fully feel your hands and feet.
Lack of Coordination
Once the nerve damage progresses to a point where you can no longer fully feel your feet, then you will likely start to experience some balance issues. You may start to stumble when walking on flat ground. This occurs because the brain does not know when the foot has fully touched the ground. Your coordination issues will be even worse when trying to walk up a flight of stairs. You will have to watch your feet to make sure they have completely cleared the stair before attempting to put your foot down. If you are not careful, then you may start to fall down when walking on uneven ground.
Sudden Bursts of Pain
Damaged nerves are prone to send pain signals to the brain on a regular basis. This natural process will cause you to feel sudden bursts of pain. It usually feels like you are being stabbed or jabbed with a sharp object. There is absolutely no way to predict when the sharp pain will occur. You will be sitting on the couch watching television with no issues when you are suddenly hit with a jolt of pain. The pain usually subsides within a few seconds, but it is still very jarring. Peripheral neuropathy also makes you extremely sensitive to touch, so you may feel a jolt of pain when your feet touch the floor or when your body rubs up against the blanket in bed.
Muscle Weakness and Twitching
If the motor nerves in your body become damaged, then you will likely start to experience muscle weakness. These nerves are primarily responsible for controlling muscle movement, so it is hard for the muscles to work at full capacity when dealing with peripheral neuropathy. You will find yourself struggling to lift heavy objects that you previously picked up with no problem. The muscle weakness will make you get tired a lot faster than normal when performing rigorous activities. You may also feel cramps and twitching in your muscles.
Changes in Blood Pressure
The autonomic nerves are responsible for controlling normal body functions. If you are suffering from peripheral neuropathy in the autonomic nerves, then your most common symptom will be changes in your blood pressure. Your blood pressure can drop to dangerous levels in an instant. This will lead you to suddenly feeling lightheaded or dizzy. This most commonly occurs when quickly standing up. If you do not take time to relax and get your blood pressure back to normal levels, then you may also have to deal with fainting spells.