If you have
- Cancer (and you’re undergoing chemotherapy)
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Exposure to toxins
You have a pretty good idea of what to expect from your disease. Your doctor has probably given you a list of symptoms that you’re likely to experience, if you’re not experiencing them already.
But if in addition to the symptoms you were expecting, you’re having
- Swelling in your feet, legs or hands
- Muscle cramps in your legs
- Changes in your skin and nails
- Numbness in your feet and hands
- Inability of feel heat or cold
- Sleepless nights due to pain
- Muscle weakness
- Painful burning and itching in your hands or feet
- Feeling like you’re wearing gloves or socks when you’re not
You could be developing another symptom that your doctor might not have told you about.
And it could cause permanent nerve damage.
You could have peripheral neuropathy in your feet and/or hands.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops when your peripheral nerves are damaged. That damage can occur because of your diabetes, as a result of toxic chemotherapy, nerves being damaged by shingles, a lack of oxygen to the nerves caused by some other underlying condition or even as a result of HIV.
If you have the symptoms listed above, the nerves in your hands and feet have probably been damaged by your illness.
Granted, when you’re dealing with the debilitating effects of diabetes or cancer or HIV/AIDS, peripheral neuropathy may sound like nothing to really worry about.
But you know how miserable it is to have constant nerve pain…to be unable to feel the simplest sensation in your hands and feet…or on the opposite end of the spectrum, to go to bed at night and be so hypersensitive that even the sheets touching your hands and feet is torture.
How Serious is Hand/Foot Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy can be very serious. How many diabetic patients have you seen with amputations below the knee?
Those amputations are usually caused by damage to the circulatory and nervous system caused by their diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy plays a big part in these complications.
Diabetics are not the only people susceptible to peripheral neuropathy in their feet and hands. If you are taking chemotherapy, if you have HIV/AIDS, if you’ve had shingles, or even if you’ve had some other infectious disease, you’re a candidate for peripheral neuropathy.
The damage caused by peripheral neuropathy can be so gradual that you don’t think much about it.
One day you have a small cut on one of your feet. The nerves in your feet are damaged so you don’t really feel it and you don’t know it’s there if you don’t pay really close attention to the condition of your feet.
That small wound becomes infected. Your immune system and circulatory system are compromised so the tissue doesn’t heal properly. Before you know it, you have a serious infection and you lose your foot.
You’re a little less likely to have that problem with your hands simply because you see them all the time and you’re much more likely to notice if something is wrong. That means you’ll seek treatment faster.
What To Do If You Think You’re Developing Peripheral Neuropathy
The first thing you need to do is make sure your treating physician is aware of the problems you’re having with your feet and hands. Then you can take steps to help yourself.
First, find a local medical professional specializing in treating patients with peripheral neuropathy, like a NeuropathyDR® clinician. Make an appointment as soon as possible.
To get ready for your appointment –
- Make note of what your underlying conditions are
- Make a list of all medications you take
- Write down when you first noticed your symptoms
- Write down all of your symptoms
- Write down what your typical daily diet looks like
Get started with treatment as quickly as possible to avoid additional nerve damage and possibly even reverse the damage that’s already there. Your NeuropathyDR® clinician will work with you to treat your symptoms, adjust your diet if you’re not eating like you should in light of your underlying condition and give you information and help on coping with the effects of peripheral neuropathy.
It’s critical that you seek treatment immediately.
For more information on determining whether or not you have peripheral neuropathy and how to cope with it if you do, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm