Every nerve in your peripheral system has a specific function, so symptoms depend on the type of nerves affected. Nerves are classified into:
- Sensory nerves that receive sensation from the skin such as temperature, pain, vibration or touch
- Motor nerves that control how your muscles move
- Autonomic nerves that control functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and bladder
Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include:
- Gradual onset of numbness and tingling in your feet or hands, which may spread upward into your legs and arms
- Sharp, jabbing or burning pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected
If autonomic nerves are affected, signs and symptoms may include:
- Heat intolerance and altered sweating
- Bowel, bladder or digestive problems
- Changes in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness
Peripheral neuropathy may affect one nerve (mononeuropathy), two or more nerves in different areas (multiple mononeuropathy) or many nerves (polyneuropathy).
When to see a doctor
Seek medical care right away if you notice unusual tingling, weakness or pain in your hands or feet. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance for controlling your symptoms and preventing further damage to your peripheral nerves.
Dec. 02, 2014
- Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm. Accessed Sept. 28, 2014.
- AskMayoExpert. Peripheral neuropathy (adult and pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of polyneuropathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 28, 2014.
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- Steps to prevent or delay nerve damage. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/steps-to-prevent-or-delay.html. Accessed Sept. 29, 2014.
- Evening primrose oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Sept. 29, 2014.
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- Fish oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Sept. 29, 2014.
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