Neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that affects motor nerves (which control muscle movement) and sensory nerves (which feel touch, pain, temperature, and texture). In severe cases, neuropathy can affect internal organs, such as the heart, blood vessels, bladder, or intestines. Neuropathy is also known as “peripheral neuropathy” is generally characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the hands and feet.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Neuropathy affects the nerves. Symptoms vary but may include the following:
- Gradual onset of tingling in your feet or hands, which may spread upwards into your legs and arms
- Burning pain
- Sharp, jabbing or electric-like pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected
- Bowel or bladder problems if autonomic nerves are affected
- Numbness (described like wearing a thin stocking or glove)
What Causes Neuropathy?
Neuropathy can result from such problems as traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, exposure to toxins and has most recently been linked to the use of denture creams. One of the most common causes of Neuropathy is diabetes.
How to Get Tested
The Mayo Clinic states the following:
“Neuropathy can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor will likely take a full medical history and perform a physical and neurological exam that may include checking your tendon reflexes, your muscle strength and tone, your ability to feel certain sensations, and your posture and coordination.
Your doctor may also request blood tests to check your level of vitamin B-12, a urinalysis, thyroid function tests and, often, electromyography — a test that measures the electrical discharges produced in your muscles. As a part of this test, you’ll be asked to have a nerve conduction study, which measures how quickly your nerves carry electrical signals. A nerve conduction study is often used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and other peripheral nerve disorders.
Your doctor may recommend a nerve biopsy, a procedure in which a small portion of a nerve is removed and examined for abnormalities. But even a nerve biopsy may not always reveal what’s damaging your nerves.”