Let’s talk about neuropathy.
Chances are you’ve heard this word before and were confused about the clear meaning of it (or how to pronounce it). You may have immediately told yourself it doesn’t affect you since you’re not diabetic. I hate to break it to you, but neuropathy affects more than just diabetics and it’s important to look out for!
First thing’s first: what is neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy specifically refers to the many conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nerves, which are nerves that offer communication between our brain/spinal cord and the remainder of our body. The nerves may be damaged by a chemical or compressed in a tight space, causing neuropathy-type symptoms. This may present in a few different ways, which we’ll touch on in a bit.
Now who gets neuropathy?
Really anyone CAN get it, but here are some causes and risk factors to look out for:
- Diabetics (Especially long term or uncontrolled diabetics, as the blood sugar eventually attacks the small nerves in finger tips and toes).
- Cigarette smokers
- Chemotherapy or radiation patients
- Patients with protein abnormalities and/or vitamin deficiencies
- Patients who have been exposed to toxic chemicals
- Alcohol dependence
- Family history of neuropathy
Falling into one of the categories mentioned above will raise your chances and risk factors of neuropathy, but how do you know you actually have neuropathy? And what are you supposed to do about it?
Let’s make it simple with 5 signs you may have neuropathy:
- numbness, tingling and/or burning sensation
- radiating, nonspecific, shooting pain that wakes you up at night
- inability to detect position of a limb
- loss of reflexes
- weakness and/or muscle cramping
While some of these signs may not be specific to neuropathy alone, it is still important to get it checked out by a professional. Make an appointment with your podiatrist and primary care physician for proper examination, testing, and treatment!