What is Peripheral Neuropathy? Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where the peripheral nerves of your body become damaged over time. This results in pain, numbness, and tingling sensations, as well as weakness and stiffness throughout the affected area. There are several different causes for this type of nerve damage, including diabetes, alcoholism, inherited causes, viral infections, and metabolic disorders such as gout or hyperthyroidism.
Most people with this condition will see an improvement in their symptoms by making some simple lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and eating a healthy diet. However, if practicing these lifestyle changes does not help your symptoms, there are several medications that can be used to treat peripheral neuropathy.
Leaving peripheral neuropathy untreated can be very dangerous because it can lead to further complications.
1. Numbness and Tingling Sensations
When the peripheral neuropathy goes untreated, it can cause numbness and tingling sensations in the affected area. This may also lead to pain, tingling or burning sensation of the skin, muscle weakness or fatigue with exercise, loss of balance when walking, or dizziness upon standing up suddenly (known as orthostatic hypotension). These symptoms are very disabling for most people.
2. Skin Conditions
Uncontrolled peripheral neuropathy can lead to skin ulcers and infections that do not heal. These wounds may be slow to heal because of damage to the nerves in your feet. This normally would provide sensation for feedback about hot or cold temperatures as well as pressure on the bottom of your foot – causing you to react when walking across a floor or standing on a floor that has an obstruction.
3. Pressure Sores and Infections
The small amounts of pain that might warn you when your skin is pressed too hard can be absent if you have peripheral neuropathy. The lack of sensation in your feet or lower legs means that minor injuries such as blisters, corns, or calluses may go unnoticed, making them vulnerable to pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores. Pressure sores are a common cause of infection and can quickly become life-threatening if not treated promptly.
4. Cardiovascular Autonomic Neuropathy
This results from the autonomic nervous system dysfunction that controls all automatic or involuntary body functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. This condition is very serious because it puts you at risk for fainting (syncope), especially when standing up suddenly after sitting or lying down (known as postural hypotension) – leading to falls.
Ignoring peripheral neuropathy can lead to gangrene (tissue death due to lack of blood flow). This is because the nerve damage causes changes in your sensations on the skin – making you unaware of pressure or injury. This can lead to sores and ulcers that go unnoticed until they become infected. If an infection goes untreated, gangrene is a risk.
To prevent these problems from occurring, it is important to treat peripheral neuropathy in its early days. As soon you experience the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, it is important to consult with your primary care provider. Also, take a step and live responsibly by making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a well-balanced diet, cutting out smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation.