For personal educational use only.
Managing the pain and frustration
Mayo Clinic Health Letter, November 1998
The burning sensation in Esther's feet is getting worse. What started
out as a mild tingling in her toes has turned into searing pain. Now,
her feet feel so "hot" she dreams of soaking them in cool water all
day or even walking barefoot in the snow.
Like more than 2 million other Americans, most of whom are older
adults, Esther has peripheral neuropathy (pe-RIF-er-ul ner-OP-ah-thee).
Peripheral neuropathy (also called peripheral neuritis) is a frustrating
and painful nerve condition. ...
Easily damaged nerves
The pain of this condition results from damage to peripheral nerves
in your body those nerves that branch out from your spinal cord to
connect every part of your body to your central nervous system.
Because peripheral nerves are long and fragile, they're susceptible
to damage from many things.
Common causes of nerve damage that results in peripheral neuropathy
include diabetes, alcoholism, autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid
arthritis and lupus) and exposure to toxic substances. ...
Whatever the cause, peripheral neuropathy usually starts with
numbness or tingling in your toes, then slowly spreads upward.
Occasionally, it affects the front of your thighs or starts in your fingers
and moves up your hands.
At times, symptoms may be barely noticeable. At other times, especially
at night, they may be almost unbearable. For some, symptoms are constant.
Common symptoms include:
Tingling, prickling or numbness
The sensation that you're wearing an invisible "glove" or "sock"
Burning or freezing pain
Sharp, jabbing or electric pain
Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
Loss of balance and coordination
Symptoms can also include: a fall in blood pressure when standing up,
constipation or diarrhea, night sweats, incontinence or impotence. ...
For additional information on peripheral neuropathy including:
Self-care tips for peripheral neuropathy pain,
and Effective Therapies on the Horizon,
please see: The Mayo Health Clinic Site Neuropathy Page .
© 1995-1998, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
For The Toxic Neuropathies Page:
Toxic Neuropathies Resulting from
School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
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