Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in the body. There are several different types of neuropathy such as peripheral, proximal, autonomic, and focal.
The signs and symptoms of neuropathy depend on which type you have, but typically general symptoms include:
- Burning sensations
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
- Issues with glands or organs
The peripheral nervous system connects nerves from the brain to the spinal cord and central nervous system. The main job of these nerves is to send signals about physical sensations to the brain. With peripheral neuropathy, these nerves malfunction due to damage. There may be signals of pain that are sent when there aren’t any physical causes. Peripheral neuropathy typically affects the hands, arms, legs, and feet.
The main causes for this disorder include:
Proximal neuropathy, also called diabetic amyotrophy, specifically affects the nerves and muscles in the hips, buttocks, and legs. Individuals with this type of neuropathy can also develop sciatica, due to the nerve in the lower back being affected.
This condition is more commonly found in individuals who have type 2 diabetes and older adults. The symptoms usually occur on one side of the body, though it can spread to the other side in some cases.
Symptoms of proximal neuropathy include:
- Severe pain in hips, buttocks, and thigh
- Muscle weakness in thighs
- Difficulty in standing from a sitting position
The autonomic nervous system aids the body with “automatic” functions such as breathing, digesting food, sweating, and pumping the heart. These are things that the body does on its own without us thinking about it. When there is autonomic neuropathy, this can greatly affect these bodily functions. The most common cause of this is diabetes but other causes of this include alcohol abuse, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Common symptoms include:
- Abnormal heart rate
- Blood pressure changes
- Excessive sweating or minimal sweating
- Weight loss
While the above types of neuropathy can affect multiple nerves throughout the body, focal neuropathy only affects one or very few nerves. The symptoms of pain, numbness, or weakness are confined to a single limb or small region of the body. An example of focal neuropathy is carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of focal neuropathy can include:
- Vision issues
- Paralysis of one side of the face (Bell’s palsy)
- Pain in wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Pain in chest, stomach, lower back
- Pain in the thigh, calf, or foot
Getting diagnosed early can prevent long term or serious issues and suffering from any type of neuropathy. While there are many causes for neuropathy, the main one is diabetes. Getting checked for prediabetes type 1 or type 2 can be critical. By getting an early diagnosis, you can help relieve or prevent nerve pain, protect the feet, and rest of the body from injuries before developing a more serious condition.