Since there are so many types of neuropathy and so many causes of neuropathy, there are also a many symptoms of the condition. While every patient might have some different symptoms, a few are more common than others. If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s likely that you have some type of nerve damage.
The pain caused by neuropathy is usually specific. It is often described as burning, throbbing or stabbing. No matter how you describe, the pain is difficult to ignore.
Neuropathic pain occurs because your nerve fibers are damaged. Those damaged fibers then send incorrect or jumbled signals to the pain centers in your body.
Where the pain occurs depends on the type of neuropathy you have. If you have diabetes, nerve pain often first occurs in the feet. If you have neuropathy because of trauma or an injury, the pain occurs at the sight of the injury. The pain felt in the arm and wrist due to carpal tunnel syndrome is an example.
Tingling and Numbness
When your sensory nerves are damaged by neuropathy, numbness or a tingling feeling are common. The numbness often starts in the feet and works its way up the body. Numbness travels from the feet to the legs, from the hands to the arms, for example.
Numbness can be a serious issue for a few reasons. You have an increased risk for injury when you can’t feel part of your body. If your foot is numb and you step on a piece of glass, you might lose a lot of blood before you notice anything. Diabetics with numbness in their feet often risk losing their feet because of injury.
Major problems with the feet are often a sign of diabetic neuropathy. Numbness in the feet compounds the issues diabetics face, as it increases their risk for infection or severe injury.
The nerve damage associated with neuropathy can also change the shape or size of a person’s feet. Those changes can make it difficult for a person to wear standard shoes. When a person does wear standard shoes, the risk for developing ulcers increases. Ulcers can cause a number of complications, from pain to a severe infection. In the worst cases, people need to have their foot or feet amputated.
Nerve damage also affects the ability of the skin to produce oils. Many people with diabetic neuropathy have to work extra hard to keep their feet moisturized. The skin of the feet can occasionally become so dry that it hardens and cracks, raising the risk for infection. Moisturizing the feet with a thick lotion or petroleum jelly is helpful for many people with diabetic neuropathy.
While some types of neuropathy affect the sensory nerves, other types affect the autonomic nerves, which control organs. Some of those nerves are in control of the digestive organs and can cause digestive trouble if damaged.
Constipation is one symptom of autonomic nerve damage. Sometimes, people have the opposite problem and experience diarrhea due to nerve damage. It’s also common for people to have alternating problems, first constipation then diarrhea.
Nerve damage can also occur to the nerves that control the bladder. That can lead to symptoms such as incontinence or an increase in the number of urinary tract infections a person has.
Neuropathy can also cause problems in the stomach. Gastroparesis, or slow emptying of the stomach, is a symptom that can occur. People with gastroparesis might not feel like eating, might feel nauseated or might be bloated.
Trouble Regulating Body Temperature
When the nerves are damaged, some people develop problems controlling their body temperature. They might not be able to sweat or they might sweat excessively. For some, high external temperatures become unbearable, because their body is no longer able to effectively cool itself off.
Muscle Spasms and Weakness
Neuropathy occasionally affects the nerves that control muscle movements. Spasms are a common symptoms, as are twitches and cramps. People with some types of hereditary neuropathy are also likely to develop a symptom of muscle weakness. Their muscles might waste away or atrophy. Standing or moving might become a challenge. In severe cases, people with motor neuropathy can experience paralysis in certain muscles or areas.
A type of diabetic neuropathy called radiculoplexus neuropathy can also lead to muscle weakness or atrophy. It usually affects the thighs and buttocks, often on one side of the body. Those with radiculoplexus neuropathy can struggle to stand up after sitting and might have sharp pain in the hips or thighs.
Your autonomic nerves also control your blood pressure and your heart rate. When those nerves are damaged, it’s common for the blood pressure to suddenly fall. This often happens when a person gets up from sitting or lying down. The quick drop in blood pressure can make a person actually faint. In some cases, the drop in blood pressure makes a person feel a little dizzy.
Since diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common types of neuropathy, it’s important to mention a symptom that affects diabetics alone. Hypoglycemia unawareness is a complication of the disease that occurs when the blood sugar falls to dangerous levels and the body doesn’t experience the usual symptoms.
Under normal circumstances, a sharp drop in blood sugar causes the body to release epinephrine. The epinephrine makes a person sweat or experience heart palpitations, both common signs of low blood sugar.
But, when someone has hypoglycemia unawareness, epinephrine isn’t released when the blood sugar falls. If a person doesn’t eat or do something to raise the blood sugar level, confusion or a loss of consciousness can occur. The condition usually occurs when the nerves that control epinephrine response are damaged. It’s more common in people with type 1 diabetes but can affect those with type 2 diabetes as well.
There are a number of ways to control the various symptoms of neuropathy. Nerve Renew contains B vitamins and alpha-lipoic acid. These ingredients have been shown in clinical studies to help reduce pain and other symptoms caused by nerve damage.