Neuropathy is a condition where there is damage to the peripheral nerves. Having neuropathy means that there is an inability of the nervous impulses sent by the brain to reach the part of the body they were intended for. It can affect the motor nerves, sensory nerves or the autonomic nerves. Your muscles, organs and joints can all be affected. Approximately thirty percent of all neuropathies are the result of diabetes. The rest are due to injury, other illnesses, poor nutrition, infections, or in some cases the cause is unknown. It most commonly affects the hands and the feet, however symptoms vary greatly from person to person. The symptoms you experience depends on where in the body the neuropathy is occurring.
If you have neuropathy, you may experience muscle weakness in the arms, hands, legs or feet. Neuropathies that affect the upper body may make it difficult to grip or hold onto items with your hands.
Neuropathies that affect the lower body can lead to a loss of balance and trouble walking. You may also lose the ability to feel sensations in the bottom of your feet. If this happens you will not be able to feel yourself stepping on the floor as you try to walk.
Pain and Other Sensations
When your nerves are compressed or damaged you may have tingling sensations in the body or you may have numbness. You can also have pain that is aching, burning or stabbing.
With neuropathy you may experience sensations of tingling, numbness or other abnormal feelings when you try to touch things. In contrast, with some cases of neuropathy all sensation is lost in either the hands or the feet. Some patients describe feeling like they are wearing socks or gloves even when they are not.
Neuropathy can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, incontinence and general problems with the bladder and bowel movements.
Having a disruption in the nervous system’s ability to transfer signals can cause sudden changes in blood pressure when changing positions and an irregular heart rate.