Our senses are vital to our regular life routine. They help us interact with our environment, perform important tasks and enjoy the good things about it. As critical as our senses are, they can be compromised by health issues and other external factors.
One such essential sense is touch. Loss of the sense of touch is commonly caused by damage to the sensory organs and blood vessels. It is a common condition in the United States. The primary condition associated with the loss of sense of touch is neuropathy. Studies show that it is prevalent in 28% of adults with diabetes.
Fortunately, neuropathy is a known disease with a cure. This article discusses neuropathy, its causes, and the early signs that you may have it.
The goal is to help you find help early. So let’s get you started!
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy refers to the damage and injury of the peripheral nerves (nerves outside your brain and spinal cord). Usually, your nerves send out injury and touch signals to the brain. However, if you have neuropathy, your damaged nerves send random pain signals to the brain.
The results of neuropathy can be devastating. You will experience numbness, weakness, and pain in the affected regions. The pain can cause restlessness and stop you from doing anything. Not even the powerful painkillers will help you calm the pain.
Further down the line, you will lose the sense of touch and go numb. Unfortunately, while the pain subsides, you become more prone to severe injuries and infections.
The different types of peripheral nerves affected by neuropathy include:
- Sensory Nerves: These are nerves that transmit messages from your senses to the brain. An example is a nerve that communicates the temperature of an object on your palm.
- Motor Nerves: These nerves transmit commands and messages from the brain to muscles. They are responsible for your movement. An example is a nerve that relays the command to retrieve your hand from a fire.
- Autonomic Nerves: These nerves relay messages of functions beyond your control. The functions include breathing, heartbeat, and digestion. An example is a nerve that stimulates sweating to regulate body temperature.
What is the Connection between Neuropathy and Diabetes?
If you have diabetes, your chances of contracting peripheral neuropathy are very high. Research shows that about 33% to 50% of individuals with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy.
Diabetes will give you trouble controlling your blood sugar levels and pressure. These can stimulate inflammation that stops oxygen and nutrients from reaching the nerves. As a result, the nerves slowly deteriorate, and you get neuropathy.
However, other factors can also cause neuropathy. These other causes include:
- Physical injury from accidents, sports injuries, and medical procedures.
- Vascular and blood problems that inhibit oxygen from the nerves.
- Some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Some hormonal imbalances.
- Alcoholism and nutritional imbalance.
- Some medications like chemotherapy drugs.
- Infections like the varicella-zoster virus.
Early Symptoms of Neuropathy
Neuropathy progresses differently for various people. However, what is common among everyone is that you can have it for a long time without notice. The signs of the condition will start as mild and periodic with intervals of normality and discomfort.
The big issue is that neuropathy can be devastating and severe if not detected early. Therefore, it is essential to detect early signs.
These are the signs you need to be on the lookout for:
- Tingling or prickling: It is usual to feel like your feet are asleep/numb after sitting awkwardly for a long time. Your feet will typically feel like a pins and needles sensation. Unfortunately, if the tingling and prickling persist and changing positions doesn’t help, it could signal the early days of neuropathy.
- Feet itchiness: The skin on our feet will usually get irritated from various factors. Sweating a lot, unhealthy skin products, and even unfitting shoes could cause problems. However, if the itchiness is extremely severe without the factors above, you may want to get checked.
- Feet have a burning sensation: Apart from itchiness and tingling, you may encounter burning sensations on your feet or the affected area. If you use ice or any remedies to no avail, you may be dealing with neuropathy. Therefore, it is vital to get help if the burning persists.
- Sudden pain sensation: Any sudden pain will always signify a problem in a particular area of your body. If by any chance, you experience sudden “electric shock” pain from any part of the body not connected to physical causes, you may be dealing with neuropathy.
- Muscle spasms or cramping: Do you feel a stitch on your legs and feet? In the earlier days of neuropathy, you may notice twitches under your skin, which will feel hard on the touch. The spasms are involuntary and very uncomfortable.
- Hypersensitivity to temperature and touch: Your skin is naturally made to detect temperature and touch. However, these two are influenced by various external factors. Hypersensitivity will feel like sharp sensations that are sometimes not influenced externally.
- Restless leg syndrome: Do you feel like moving your feet all the time? The urge is usually uncontrollable and could get your feet very restless. It will stop you from conducting activities such as driving and resting comfortably.
Get Checked Today, Before a Problem Arises
While neuropathy is not easy to detect in its early stages, it is vital to get checked. It’s especially true if you have diabetes, as severe cases could be irreversible. Therefore, it is vital to keep an eye on your reflexes to touch and the condition of your feet.
If you think you might be developing neuropathy, contact us, and let’s get you checked. We will conduct an in-depth checkup to determine if you are okay. And if we find you do, we have the solution for you.
Our foot and ankle specialists will run a few tests on your feet and determine the severity of the problem. We will then provide you with a proven guideline to treat the underlying causes to let the nerves heal. In severe cases, we will provide treatment for the symptoms to slow down the damage.