Unexplained Pain or Numbness? It Might Be Peripheral Neuropathy

Perhaps you notice a slight tingling in your feet, or a patch of numbness develops in your hand. These unexplained sensations may be caused by peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage.

Peripheral neuropathy affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States, and there are more than 100 different types of the condition, making it difficult to figure out what’s going on with your body when you’re faced with so many options.

To help you sort through the mountains of information on peripheral neuropathy, we’ve pulled together the basics on the condition, so you can better determine what you might be up against. Here at The Vanguard Clinic, we want our patients in St. Louis to lead happy, healthy lives, and one of the best ways to do that is through education.

With that in mind, let’s take a look to see whether your tingling and numbness might be caused by peripheral neuropathy.

The low down

The first thing you should know about peripheral neuropathy is that it’s a catchall term for damage to your peripheral nerves. This includes any nerve outside of your central nervous system, which is comprised of your brain and spinal cord. Your peripheral nerves reach almost every square inch of your body, and they’re responsible for the messaging back and forth to your central nervous system, which interprets the sensory information and governs how you react and feel.

When something comes along and interrupts this process, you may be left with garbled messaging, which is what can create the tingling and numbness. This “something” is the source of your nerve damage, and may be an injury, an infection or inflammatory disease, diabetes, toxins, compression, or any of a host of other conditions that affect the function of your peripheral nerves.

The signs

You usually feel peripheral neuropathy in your extremities, meaning your hands and feet. Left unchecked, the symptoms can spread up your legs and arms. While tingling and numbness are the hallmarks of peripheral neuropathy, the condition manifests itself in myriad ways, including pain, muscle weakness, sensitivity, lack of coordination, and more. There’s no checklist of symptoms when it comes to peripheral neuropathy, but if your symptoms match up with the most common side effects, it’s worth letting us take a look.

Know your risks

For our patients with diabetes, we’d like to underscore the importance of being on the lookout for peripheral neuropathy, which is also called diabetic neuropathy. Increased blood glucose levels can damage your peripheral nerves, especially in your feet and legs. It can even lead to vision problems because of damage to your optic nerve.

If you have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy is a clear and present danger, which we vigilantly monitor whenever you come to see us. You can do your part by coming in at the first signs of trouble. Neuropathy typically comes on gradually, so the sooner you come to see us, the better.

Outside of diabetes, alcoholism is another risk factor that bears monitoring, as are certain vitamin deficiencies, namely the B vitamins.

Autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can also put you more at risk for developing peripheral neuropathy.

The bottom line is that we can discuss your risk factors to ensure that we stay one step ahead of peripheral neuropathy.

Even if you don’t fall into any risk category, any time you feel persistent sensations in your body with no identifiable cause, you should come in to get checked out, so we can get to the bottom of your problem and work to prevent it from becoming an even larger issue.

If you suspect you may have some form of peripheral neuropathy, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Or you can request a consultation using the online scheduler on this website.

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