7 Warning Signs of Neuropathy You Should Never Ignore
The pain and tingling in their feet are early signs of a condition called peripheral neuropathy, which is a common complication of diabetes. For many people, these foot symptoms are “the first clear, obvious sign that someone has diabetes or prediabetes. When caught very early, both the foot pain and the elevated blood sugar can sometimes be reversed.
It’s so important not to ignore any pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in your feet or hands or other symptoms that suggest you could have a form of neuropathy — a catch-all term for damage to nerves that branch out from our brains and spinal cords to the rest of our bodies. Some of these nerves carry the signals that allow us to feel, for example, that our hands are near a hot stove or our shoes are too tight; others tell our muscles to move, or control processes such as digestion and blood pressure.
Neuropathy refers to a condition that affects the peripheral nerves and often leads to uncomfortable sensations, such as tingling, numbness, and pain in various parts of the body. While the condition can develop for numerous reasons, it is crucial to recognize the warning signs early on to seek proper medical attention. In this article, we will discuss seven common warning signs of neuropathy that should never be ignored.
Depending on the kind of neuropathy you have, your symptoms could include:
- Tingling or pain in your feet or hands. The pain may be burning, freezing or shooting and is often worse at night.
- Feeling like you are wearing invisible socks or gloves.
- Feeling weak or unsteady in your feet and legs.
- Extreme sensitivity to touch.
- Loss of balance and coordination.
- Muscle cramping or twitching.
- Abnormalities in pulse or blood pressure.
1. Numbness and Tingling Sensations.
One of the most common symptoms of neuropathy is a persistent feeling of numbness or tingling in the extremities, such as the hands, feet, arms, or legs. These sensations can range from mild and sporadic to severe and constant. Often, patients describe these feelings as if their limbs have "fallen asleep" or are covered in a prickling sensation. If you experience these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly.
2. Muscle Weakness.
Neuropathy can lead to muscle weakness and a noticeable decrease in strength. Patients may find it difficult to perform daily tasks that were once effortless. Weakness can affect any muscle group, including those responsible for gripping objects, walking, or maintaining balance. If you notice a sudden or progressive loss of muscle strength, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional.
3. Sharp or Burning Pain.
While some individuals may experience numbness, others may encounter sharp or burning pain in the affected areas. This pain can be intermittent or constant and may worsen at night. The discomfort might be likened to stabbing, shooting, or electric shock-like sensations. If you are enduring persistent or recurring pain, it should not be ignored.
4. Loss of Coordination and Balance.
Neuropathy can disrupt the signals sent by the nerves responsible for coordinating muscle movements, leading to a loss of balance and coordination. Patients may find it challenging to maintain stability while walking or may stumble unexpectedly. Falls are not uncommon among individuals with neuropathy. If you notice a decline in your coordination or balance, consult a healthcare professional promptly.
5. Sensitivity to Touch or Temperature.
Heightened sensitivity to touch or temperature changes is another significant warning sign of neuropathy. Patients may experience an increased sensitivity to cold or heat, often perceiving these sensations as painful or uncomfortable. Even a gentle touch or light pressure can evoke an amplified response. If you find yourself overly sensitive to touch or temperature variations, it is important to address this symptom.
6. Digestive Issues.
Neuropathy can also affect the nerves that control digestion, leading to gastrointestinal problems. Patients may encounter symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. These digestive issues may be persistent or intermittent. If you experience ongoing digestive problems without an apparent cause, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional.
Also see: 10 Ways to Get Rid of Indigestion Fast
7. Changes in Blood Pressure or Heart Rate.
Autonomic neuropathy, a specific type of neuropathy, affects the nerves that control involuntary bodily functions such as blood pressure and heart rate. Consequently, patients with autonomic neuropathy may experience dizziness, lightheadedness, rapid heart rate, or fluctuations in blood pressure. If you notice unexplained changes in your heart rate or blood pressure, it is crucial to seek medical evaluation promptly.
In about one quarter of cases, no underlying cause is found. But many people in that group have the same risk factors — such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure — commonly found in people with type 2 diabetes.
Can neuropathy be treated?
There are treatments for neuropathy. However, they mostly aim at underlying causes and symptoms. By and large, once you have an established neuropathy, it’s hard to reverse it but the damage often can be slowed. For people with diabetes, treatment includes blood sugar control, along with changes in diet and exercise to improve overall metabolic health. Anyone with neuropathy in their feet should see a podiatrist and establish a foot care routine to prevent injuries and infection.
Some patients need pain medication, but not all medications work for all patients. When one regimen doesn’t work, it’s important not to give up and to keep trying. Mental health care and physical therapy also can help.
Also see: 7 Tips to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally
It is possible to reduce your risks for many common forms of neuropathy. The Mayo Clinic recommends:
- Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.
- Getting enough vitamin B-12. Some people, including vegetarians and vegans, may need fortified foods or supplements.
- Exercising regularly, aiming for at least 30 minutes to one hour at least three times a week.
- Avoiding toxic chemicals, smoking and heavy alcohol use, as well as repetitive motions and cramped positions that put pressure on nerves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that all adults over age 50 get vaccinated against shingles.
Neuropathy is a condition that can significantly impact a person's quality of life if left untreated. As healthcare professionals, we strongly urge you to pay attention to the warning signs outlined in this article. If you experience any of these symptoms—numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, sharp or burning pain, loss, you can visit or call the closest emergency room for the medical help.
We have ER locations across the DFW metroplex that are open and here to help you 24/7 If you or your family have a medical emergency.
We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area with average wait times of less than 10 mins that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.