Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the peripheral nerves. These nerves are in parts of the body beyond the brain and spinal cord. The condition often affects the arms or legs. It causes a change in physical feeling. Symptoms include weakness in the muscles, tingling, numbness, or shooting pains. Symptoms may be more common at night. Your skin may be extra sensitive to light touch or temperature changes.

Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by:

  • Complications from a chronic disease such as diabetes

  • Infections caused by viruses or bacteria

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Cancer

  • Chemo medicines to treat cancer

  • Injuries

A lack of certain vitamins may also lead to it. It may also be caused by exposure to certain illegal drugs or chemicals. Several forms of neuropathy run in families (hereditary).

Home care

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbs. Ask if any of the medicines may be causing your problems. Don't make any changes to prescription medicines without talking with your healthcare provider first.

  • You may be prescribed medicines to help ease the tingling feeling or for pain. Take all medicines as directed.

  • A numb hand or foot may be more likely to be injured. To help protect it:

    • Always use oven mitts.

    • Test water temperature with an unaffected hand or foot.

    • Use caution when trimming nails. File sharp areas.

    • Wear shoes that fit well to prevent pressure points, blisters, and ulcers.

    • Inspect your hands and feet carefully at least once a week. This includes the soles of your feet and between the toes. If you see red areas, sores, or other problems, tell your healthcare provider.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. You may need more testing or assessment.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Redness, swelling, cracking, or ulcer on any numb area, especially the feet

  • New symptoms of numbness or muscle weakness numbness

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

  • Slurred speech, confusion, or trouble speaking, walking, or seeing

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