What is it?
Can it be reversed?
How Do You Get To The Bottom of it?
Your nervous system has two parts, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal cord and their functions.
The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves connected to your central nervous system that come away from the center of the spine and include the nerves that lead to your arms and legs and your internal organs.
The peripheral nervous system controls your motor (muscles and motion) and sensory functions (for feeling) in areas like the shoulder, hands and legs, as well as your visceral (organ) body functions which include organs including the heart, kidney, intestines and many more.
Peripheral Neuropathy is a degenerative disease that can affect every part of your life such as walking, eating and sleeping.
The peripheral nerves carry information to and from your brain and central nervous system to all parts of your body.
When they are damaged or diseased, these nerves do not function properly and your brain doesn’t receive proper communication with the parts of your body that are affected.
A problem with the functioning of the nerves outside the spinal cord. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night) and loss of reflexes.
Peripheral neuropathy can be damage to one nerve (mononeuropathy), a nerve group (multiple mononeuropathy), or nerves throughout the body (polyneuropathy). The nerves that can be affected are:
- Sensory nerves (sensing and feeling)
- Motor nerves (muscle and motion)
- Autonomic nerves (internal and organs)
Sensory nerves, as the name implies, are the nerves that sense. These nerves receive signals such as heat, cold, pain and other sensations that are determined by touch.
Motor nerves affect your muscles and body movements. They provide coordination and balance. These nerves are used to walk, to pick up items, to hold things, to type, to write, to eat, and all the other body functions where you use your muscles to perform tasks.
Autonomic nerves control your bodily functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate and other organ functions. These are functions that are automatic and when healthy go unnoticed.
When you are suffering from peripheral neuropathy you can encounter:
Pain and numbness
Loss of sensation
- Burning pain sensation
- Sharp shooting pain
- Lessened sensitivity in arms or legs
- Muscle problems such as weakness
- Difficulty moving a part of the body
- Falling due to legs buckling
- Loss of dexterity
- Muscles twitching or cramping
- Problems with body organs
- Problems digesting food
- Bloated or full feelings
- Vomiting undigested foods
- Loose or hard stools
- Difficulty swallowing
- Light-headedness or faint feelings
- Sexual problems
- Bladder problems
- Lack of coordination
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy depend upon the nerves that are damaged, and how many of the nerves are damaged.
Larger sensory fiber nerves register vibration, light touch and position sense. Damage to large sensory fibers lessens the ability to feel vibrations and touch, resulting in a general sense of numbness, especially in the hands and feet.
Muscle weakness is the most common symptom of motor nerve damage5.
In the most common forms of neuropathy, the nerve fibers (individual cells that make up the nerve) most distant from the brain and the spinal cord malfunction first.
An early sign of nerve damage is tingling or burning in the arms and legs. Often this will start in your toes and feet. You can experience deep pain as well in the legs and feet.
Pain and other symptoms often appear symmetrically, for example, in both feet followed by a gradual progression up both the legs.
Next, the fingers, hands, and arms become affected.
Symptoms can progress into the central part of the body.