The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that more than 20 million people in the U.S. today suffer from some type of peripheral neuropathy. While more than 35 types of neuropathy have been identified, symptoms vary depending on the type of nerves that were damaged. Here are some of the most common symptoms experienced by neuropathy patients:
Motor Nerve Damage
- Most commonly associated with muscle weakness
- Symptoms can include muscle shrinking, painful cramps, and uncontrolled muscle twitching that’s visible underneath the skin.
Sensory Nerve Damage
- Damage to large sensory fibers limits a person’s ability to feel touch and vibrations, particularly in the hands and feet.
- The effects of damage to large sensory fibers make it difficult for people to coordinate complex movements, like maintaining balance when the eyes are shut, walking, or fastening buttons.
- Damage to small sensory fibers contributes to the ability to feel changes in pain or temperature.
- Symptoms of small sensory fiber damage include issues with signal processing from the spinal cord, which can result in severe pain.
Autonomic Nerve Damage
- Occurs due to damage in the axons of small autonomic nerve fibers
- Symptoms include excess sweating, gastrointestinal symptoms, heat intolerance, and inability for the body’s small blood vessels to contract and expand appropriately.
- Some people develop problems swallowing and eating if the esophageal nerves are affected.