10 Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

To understand peripheral neuropathy, it is necessary to know a bit about the peripheral nervous system. Your peripheral nervous system is all the nerves existing beyond your brain and spinal column (your central nervous system). Your peripheral nerves connect your central nervous system to the rest of your body and to your environment. There are three types of peripheral nerves, sensory, somatic and autonomic. Sensory nerves receive information from your skin, such as touch, temperature and pain. Somatic nerves control your muscle movement, while your autonomic nervous system controls your involuntary responses, such as heart rate, blood pressure and digestion.

When you have peripheral neuropathy (PN), you have sustained some sort of damage to your peripheral nervous system. This damage may have been caused by an injury, metabolic condition, or from exposure to environmental toxins. For some people, PN is idiopathic, meaning no cause is found. This nerve damage can result in a variety of symptoms. For some people, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy improve when the underlying cause is treated. For others, the damage to the peripheral system is permanent, but symptoms can be improved with proper treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent permanent damage, so you should contact your healthcare provider if you recognize these ten signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

1. Pain

Because peripheral neuropathy affects your sensory signals, one of the first symptoms that may catch your attention is pain. Your discomfort can be limited to one area or wide-spread, depending on the cause of your neuropathy. The misery you feel can vary in intensity. Your discomfort could be described as dull and throbbing or feel sharp, stabbing or felt as a burning sensation. These uncomfortable, painful sensations are typically found in the hands, feet, legs and arms. The type of discomfort you feel will depend on which nerves are affected and how the distorted signals are processed by your brain.

Some forms of peripheral neuropathy are the result of damage to the axons (threadlike portion) of the nerve cell, while others are caused by damage to the myelin sheath (insulating fatty cover). With peripheral neuropathy, symptoms can be acute or chronic. The symptoms can come and go, remain constant or change from day to day. Sometimes symptoms hit suddenly and progress quite rapidly. The painful sensations typically resolve slowly as the affected nerves heal.