The signs come slowly, and then one day you realize you can't feel your fingers or toes. Unbeknownst to you; you may be suffering from peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is the gradual onset of numbness and tingling in your toes and fingers. It commonly starts in the longest nerves, the ones that run all the way to your toes. Unfortunately it can progress into sharp or jabbing electric like pain and may cause lack of coordination.
There are tests that we can run for the condition and treatments to help alleviate the symptoms. For example, an EMG (electromyograph) and Nerve Conduction Study can tell us if there has been nerve damage and, if so, how much. We can also order blood tests to check vitamin levels, blood sugar, and thyroid, liver and kidney function. If there us a problem detected in any of these areas, we can take correction action.
There are risk factors you should know about in managing your peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes and failing to control blood sugar levels can negatively affect your nerves, as can infections, vitamin deficiencies — especially B-vitamins — and alcohol abuse. Alcohol and nerves do not mix.
Nerve damage may also have occurred due to sports or trauma injury, or due to repetitive physical stress. And cramped positions like shoes that are too tight, keeping your knees crossed for long periods of time, leaning on your elbows, repetitive motion like being at a keyboard all day, can cause peripheral neuropathy. Being around toxic chemicals and tobacco smoke are also risk factors for neuropathy.