What are the Symptoms of Severe Neuropathy?

There are an estimated 7 trillion nerves in the human body. Nerves are an extremely important part of our body. Our nervous system guides pretty much everything that we do, feel, say and even think. This electrical wiring travels around the whole body, sending and receiving messages that enable us to do everything that we take for granted every day. These include:

 

  • Thoughts, learning, memory and feelings
 
  • Movements, including balance and coordination
 
  • Sleeping
 
  • Healing and aging
 
  • Our senses – what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel
 
  • Heartbeat and breathing
 
  • Digestion and metabolism
 
  • Responses to stressful situations

 

There are many conditions and disorders that affect the nervous system, including neuropathy.  

 

What is neuropathy?

 

Neuropathy refers to damage or dysfunction of the nerves that are found in the peripheral nervous system. These are the nerves found outside the brain and spinal cord and includes those that branch right down into the hands and feet. When someone has neuropathy, they experience disruption in the way that neurons communicate with each other and with their brain.

 

Neuropathy is very common, with studies estimating that it affects between 25% to 30% of Americans will be affected by the condition during their lifetime. And while it can affect anyone of any age, it is most common in the older generation. You are also particularly at risk of neuropathy if you:

 

  • Suffer from diabetes
 
  • Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
 
  • Are obese
 
  • Drink excessive alcohol
 
  • Have chemotherapy treatment
 
  • Have been diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

 

How quickly neuropathy develops can vary depending on the type that you have. Slow-developing neuropathy is generally known as ‘chronic’, while fast-developing neuropathy is referred to as being ‘acute’.

 

What are the symptoms of severe neuropathy?

 

Again, the symptoms that you experience will largely depend on the type of neuropathy you have, as well as the location of the nerves that have been damaged. Some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with neuropathy include:

 

  • Sharp, burning, throbbing or electric-type shooting pain
 
  • Tingling or numbness, usually starting in the hands/feet and extending into the limbs
 
  • Changes in sensation
 
  • Severe pain, enough to keep you awake at night
 
  • Loss of coordination
 
  • Inability to feel pressure and temperature
 
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
 
  • Muscle weakness, difficulty walking/moving your arms and legs
 
  • Low blood pressure/dizziness when standing up
 
  • Abnormal sweating
 
  • Unintentional weight loss
 
  • Digestive issues including bloating, nausea, vomiting and more
 
  • Bladder weakness/issues
 
  • Issues with sexual function

 

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you should arrange to see a neuropathy expert as soon as possible.

 

Can neuropathy be treated?


Fortunately, there are a few different treatment options for neuropathy, and your doctor will start by trying to identify any underlying medical issues which could be contributing to your symptoms. It’s also important to know that while not all neuropathies can be cured, it is possible to manage the symptoms with the right treatment.

 

Your neuropathy expert will be able to explain more, but some of the potential treatments you may be offered could include medications to control your pain, physical therapy, occupational therapy, laser therapy, mechanical aids and even surgery for some types of severe neuropathy.

 

 

To learn more about neuropathy, call Pain and Laser Centers of North Carolina at (336) 815-5800 to reach our office in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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