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Peripheral neuropathy

  • Alternative Names

    Peripheral neuritis; Neuropathy - peripheral; Neuritis - peripheral


    Symptoms

    Symptoms depend on the nerve that is damaged. Symptoms also depend on whether the damage affects one nerve, several nerves, or the whole body.

    PAIN AND NUMBNESS

    Tingling or burning in the arms and legs may be an early sign of nerve damage. These feelings often start in your toes and feet. You may have deep pain. This often happens in the feet and legs.

    You may lose feeling in your legs and arms. Because of this, you may not notice when you step on something sharp. You may not notice when touch something that is too hot or cold. You may not know when you have a small blister or sore on your feet.

    MUSCLE PROBLEMS

    Damage to the nerves can make it harder to control muscles. It can also cause weakness. You may notice problems moving a part of your body. You may fall because your legs buckle. You may trip over your toes.

    Doing tasks such as buttoning a shirt may be harder. You may also notice your muscles twitch or cramp. Your muscles may become smaller.

    PROBLEMS WITH BODY ORGANS

    People with nerve damage may have problems digesting food. You may feel full or bloated and have heartburn after eating only a little food. Sometimes you may vomit food that has not been digested well. You may have either loose stools are hard stools. Some people have problems swallowing.

    Damage to the nerves to your heart may cause you to feel lightheaded, or faint, when you stand up.

    Angina is the warning chest pain for heart disease and heart attack. Nerve damage may "hide" this warning sign. You should learn other warning signs of a heart attack. They are sudden fatigue, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting.

    OTHER SYMPTOMS OF NERVE DAMAGE

    Sexual problems. Men may have problems with erections. Women may have trouble with vaginal dryness or orgasm.

    Some people may not be able to tell when their blood sugar gets too low.

    Bladder problems. You may leak urine. You may not be able to tell when your bladder is full. Some people are not able to empty their bladder.

    You may sweat too much. This may happen when the temperature is cool, when you are at rest, or at other unusual times.


    Signs and tests

    Your doctor will do a careful history of you. You will also have a physical exam.

    You may have blood tests to look for causes of your nerve damage.

    You may also have tests to: check activity in muscles, see how fast signals travel along nerves, and look at a sample of a nerve under a microscope.