Peripheral nerves run from the tips of your fingers to your toes, making them the longest nerves in the entire body. If these nerves suffer damage, you may begin experiencing pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and feet. In more severe cases, one may have bouts of stabbing, sharp, and shooting pains as well as weakness. Millions of people suffer from peripheral neuropathy each year. If you or a loved one are affected, there are 6 things you should know about this condition.
- Diabetes is the number one cause of neuropathy – Today, over 70% of patients who suffer from diabetes develop symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Managing your blood sugar carefully can help you avoid developing diabetes, preventing and in some cases reversing the effects of diabetic neuropathy.
- Neuropathy is more than just pain and tingling – It’s true pain and tingling are among the most common symptoms, but it is not limited to only those signs. Peripheral nerves are made up of 3 different types: autonomic, motor, and sensory, each one with the ability to show distinct symptoms. Autonomic nerve damage can affect breathing, blood pressure, sweating, and other involuntary functions, while motor nerve damage can cause issues with the ability to move your arms, weakness in the hands, and difficulty walking. Sensory nerve damage can result in frequent pain, numbness, and tingling.
- Other Causes of Neuropathy – Although diabetes is the number one cause of peripheral neuropathy, there are other frequent causes that you should watch out for, such as low vitamin B12 levels, alcoholism, exposure to toxins, traumatic injury, and even chemotherapy. When it is undetermined as to what is causing the condition, it is referred to as idiopathic neuropathy.
- Specific medications can cause nerve damage – Metformin, a drug often associated with treating diabetes, may cause vitamin B-12 deficiency, contributing to the onset of neuropathy.
- What you eat can increase the severity of your symptoms – Your diet can play a large role in improving or increasing your symptoms. Foods high in refined grains, sugars, or artificial sweeteners can irritate nerve pain, while foods low in fats can positively impact neuropathy when accompanied by exercise.
- Prevention is crucial – While neuropathy due to injury may be unavoidable, there are some situations in which preventative measures can be taken. Diabetes may be the leading cause of neuropathy, but it is also one of the most preventable diseases. Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle can help avoid the development of diabetes.
Regardless of how long you have been living with peripheral neuropathy or you are concerned about the possibility of developing the condition, it is important to know what to expect and understand the causes so that you can make educated decisions regarding how to handle your health whether it is to avoid, slow, or prevent the condition altogether.