Top Warning Signs of Neuropathy

Around 20 million Americans have peripheral neuropathy, a painful and disruptive condition that is due to nerve damage, although the condition may be underdiagnosed. Neuropathy symptoms vary significantly, and many people might not know that they’re experiencing signs of nerve damage. 

At Spine & Pain Institute of Florida in Lakeland, Florida, Dr. Navdeep Jassal, our board-certified pain management expert, diagnoses and treats neuropathy with state-of-the-art interventions to reduce pain and restore function. 

The first step of getting treatment is scheduling an appointment with Dr. Jassal for diagnosis. But what are the warning signs that you have neuropathy, and when should you talk to a doctor?

Warning signs of neuropathy

Neuropathy can affect your sensory, motor, and autonomic nerves. Your sensory nerves provide sensation to your skin, like touch, temperature, and pain. Your motor nerves control movement, and your autonomic nerves regulate body functions like your heart rate, digestion, and bladder. 

Your symptoms depend on the type of nerve that’s affected. In most cases, the symptoms that most patients experience first include:

You might also notice that you become less coordinated. For example, you might start to catch your feet on uneven surfaces or stairs. Some patients discover that they can’t hold pens or cups of coffee because of weakness or lost dexterity in their hands. 

However, if you have neuropathy due to autonomic nerve damage, you might also experience digestive, bladder, or bowel problems or pain. Some patients also experience fluctuations in their blood pressure that causes dizziness or lightheadedness. 

You should make an appointment with Dr. Jassal if you have any of these painful and disruptive symptoms. Other health issues can sometimes trigger similar symptoms, and getting an accurate diagnosis is critical for starting an effective treatment plan.

The causes of neuropathy

Most neuropathy cases — between 30-40% — are idiopathic, which means that the condition has no discernable cause. Another 30% of diagnosed cases are nerve damage caused by diabetes. If you have diabetes, your physician should check for signs of nerve damage at every appointment. They often touch the bottom of your feet with a thin stylus or wire to see if you can feel the sensation. 

The other potential causes of neuropathy include:

Your risk of neuropathy is higher if you abuse alcohol or have vitamin deficiencies, particularly of the B vitamins. Some medications, such as chemotherapy, can also increase your risk of neuropathy.

Diagnosing neuropathy

If you think you might have neuropathy, our first step to confirm your diagnosis. Dr. Jassal reviews your medical history and asks about your symptoms. He completes a neurological exam to evaluate your reflexes, muscle strength, and ability to feel sensations, as well as your posture and coordination. 

He might also order blood tests to check for other diseases or deficiencies that could contribute to your condition. He uses nerve function tests, including electromyography and nerve conduction studies, to look for signs of nerve damage and locate the affected nerve(s).

In some cases, we might also recommend an MRI, skin biopsy, or nerve biopsy to look for abnormalities in your nerve endings. 

Neuropathy management

If you have neuropathy, we offer treatment plans that are tailored to address your specific needs. If you have nerve pain, we provide treatments to block errant pain signals such as:

We also usually recommend physical therapy to help you restore your muscle strength and tone. Therapy can also help restore your balance and coordination to reduce your risk of falling. 

Dr. Jassal might also recommend some lifestyle adjustments to improve your diet and overall health, which can make neuropathy easier to live with. 

If your hands and feet are numb, weak, or painful, give our office a call or make an appointment online today for expert neuropathy treatment and support. 

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