Peripheral neuropathy has become quite common, with over 20 million people in the U.S. and every 1 in 10 people over 55 years old in the UK suffering from the condition.
One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes (affecting 60% – 70% of diabetic patients) but it has many other causes. It is a condition that affects people of all ages but it is prevalent in the aged, particularly those above 65 years of age.
Here is more on neuropathy to answer the repeatedly asked question:
‘How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?’.
First things first,
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, often called peripheral neuropathy, is a type of damage to the nervous system. The human body is made up of a nervous system that constitutes 2 main parts:
The central and the peripheral nervous systems.
The first is made up of the brain and spinal cord while the latter comprises nerves that branch off from the spinal cord and extend to all parts of the body.
That said, peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves in the body’s extremities; those stemming from the spinal cord and into the legs, feet, arms, and hands are damaged.
What Is the Function of the Peripheral Nervous System and What Happens When It’s Damaged?
There are different types of nerves in the peripheral nervous system, each with a different function. These include:
• Motor nerves: They control the movement and action of the muscles of the feet, arms, hands, and legs.
• Sensory nerves: They transmit internal and external stimuli and sensation such as temperature, pain, contact,
• Autonomic nerves: They regulate involuntary physiologic processes such as sexual arousal, digestion, blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.
When these nerves are damaged or dysfunctional, a person experiences a loss of sensitivity, feeling of numbness to sensation, tinging feeling that feels like pins and needles, and general weakness in the area affected.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes, both diabetes types 1 and 2. This is a result of high blood sugar levels which damage the peripheral nerves. Other causes include
• High alcohol consumption
• Side effects of certain medications or exposure to certain toxins
• Inherited causes
• Traumatic injuries
• Viral infections e.g. shingles
• Metabolic problems.
How Can You Know if You Have Peripheral Neuropathy?
Some of the early symptoms of peripheral neuropathy reported by patients include numbness, loss of sensation to touch, tingling needlelike feeling in the hands or feet, shooting or stabbing pain from the affected region, and a burning sensation.
Note that most victims of peripheral neuropathy are affected in their feet. As such, some of the symptoms you would encounter in the early stages of feet neuropathy include muscle weakness that may lead to a loss of balance and coordination, an ulcer, or a cut on the feet that does not get better and the loss of sensation in the feet.
If You Do Have the Condition, Do You Have to See a Doctor?
Just How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?
When the disease starts, the majority of the said symptoms are constant but may come and go. As such, people ignore the problem and may take pain killers for pain relief. It is with utmost caution that we advise against ignoring any of the signs of peripheral neuropathy. It may seem like a minor issue, but it has the potential to lead to serious consequences.
That said, at the onset of the condition, patients need to visit a physician for diagnosis and treatment. While it is a complex problem, most cases can easily be treated and sometimes cured. Nevertheless, even the ones without a cure can be controlled and managed to prevent further nerve damage.
If Not, How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?
If left untreated, neuropathy can gradually damage more nerves and cause permanent damage. As a result, a person may suffer from foot ulcers and other complications that can cause serious bacterial infections of lack of blood flow.
This, in turn, leads to Gangrene, or the complete death of body tissue. As such, the final result of what started as a simple tingling feeling is the amputation of the entire foot.
Even worse, is when the autonomic nerves are affected. They regulate involuntary physiologic processes such as digestion, blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.
Peripheral neuropathy can therefore hinder the automatic functions of the heart and circulation system when it affects these nerves leading to a serious condition known as cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy.
Following this, you might have to undergo treatments to raise your blood pressure or need a pacemaker installed in your body to control your heart’s rhythm.
Lewis Family Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Westminster, MD
Nevertheless, All hope is not lost. At Lewis Family Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Westminster, MD, we are dedicated to managing and treating your condition to prevent further nerve damage. As such, we are the top place to treat peripheral neuropathy in Baltimore, Maryland.
With us, you will enjoy fast, friendly service, a holistic approach to treatment, and a team dedicated to the relief of the patient’s pain. That said, schedule an appointment with us today and enjoy exemplary care and service!
Learn More: How We Treat Foot Pain