Whereas the central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system includes the nerves throughout the rest of the body. Peripheral nerve pain is, therefore, a result of damage to the nerves in the hands, feet, and elsewhere.
Peripheral neuropathy often causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet, but it also can manifest in other areas of the body as well.
The peripheral nervous system sends messages to the central nervous system, but peripheral neuropathy interferes with the sending of these signaling messages to and from the brain. So how does peripheral neuropathy happen, and what can be done about it?
Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy can result from trauma or damage to a particular body part. That area of the body may then develop symptoms of neuropathy due to nerve damage to the area.
Peripheral nerve pain can thus be caused by infections, metabolic issues, genetic makeup, or exposure to certain toxins. Causes of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Lyme disease
- Hepatitis B or C
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Bone marrow conditions
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Trauma and injury
- Repetitive motion injury
In some cases, if it is caused by a treatable condition, medication can greatly alleviate the peripheral nerve pain.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
People who have the condition describe the pain as sharp, stabbing, throbbing, burning, or tingling. It can result in extreme sensitivity to touch. The onset may be gradual and begin as a prickling or tingling feeling in the feet and hands.
It can also cause balance issues and can result in falls. The sensation of anything on the skin – even a blanket on the legs – can cause the symptoms to flare up, just from touching the legs.
Sometimes, the autonomic nerves are also affected. These nerves regulate automatic processes in the body, resulting in intolerance to heat, excessive sweating, or the inability to sweat (regulate body temperature). Bowel, bladder, and digestive problems can develop, as well as changes in blood pressure – which can cause dizziness.
Peripheral nerve pain can lead to atrophy, because the pain from using a muscle makes you naturally want to avoid using that muscle. However, not using a muscle will cause it to wither and atrophy, so it is important to talk to your doctor about appropriate ways to exercise and keep your muscles in good shape despite your neuropathy.
Pain Doctors in Austin, Texas
If you or someone you know has some type of neuropathy, injury, or chronic pain, get help from a medical professional – it does not have to be a permanent condition. We offer many ways to treat and lessen your pain, including nerve blocks, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) healing therapy, and even special implants.