If you have
• Cancer (and you’re undergoing chemotherapy)
And you‘ve noticed that, in addition to the discomfort you expected from your disease, you also have
• Swelling in your feet, legs or hands
• Muscle cramps in your legs
• Changes in your skin and nails
• Numbness in your feet and hands
• Inability of feel heat or cold
• Sleepless nights due to pain
• Muscle weakness
• Painful burning and itching in your hands or feet
• Feeling like you’re wearing gloves or socks when you’re not
You could have another problem and it’s not just an uncomfortable symptom of your disease.
You could have peripheral neuropathy in your feet and/or hands.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is the damage that occurs when your peripheral nerves are damaged. That damage can occur because of your diabetes, as a result of toxic chemotherapy, nerves being damaged by shingles, a lack of oxygen to the nerves caused by some other underlying condition or even as a result of HIV.
If you have the symptoms listed above, the nerves in your hands and feet have probably been damaged by your illness.
When you compare peripheral neuropathy to your actual illness, it may sound like it’s really no big deal. The people around you may think you’re overreacting. But you know how miserable it is to have constant nerve pain…to be unable to feel the simplest sensation in your hands and feet…or on the opposite end of the spectrum, to go to bed at night and be so hypersensitive that even the sheets touching your hands and feet is torture.
How Serious is Hand/Foot Peripheral Neuropathy?
In your feet, it can be very serious. How many diabetic patients have you seen with amputations below the knee?
Those amputations are usually caused by damage to the circulatory and nervous system caused by their diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy plays a big part in these complications.
Diabetics are not the only people susceptible to peripheral neuropathy in their feet and hands. If you are taking chemotherapy, if you have HIV/AIDS, if you’ve had shingles, or even if you’ve had some other infectious disease, you’re a candidate for peripheral neuropathy.
Think about it.
If you have a small wound on one of your feet and your neuropathy prevents you from feeling it, you’re not going to treat it properly. Your immune system and circulatory system are compromised so the tissue doesn’t heal properly. The next thing you know, you have a serious infection and you lose your foot.
The hands are less susceptible to something that severe (they’re closer to the heart, more active and have better blood circulation). You use your hands more frequently and you’re much more likely to notice a wound on your hands than your feet. That means you’ll seek treatment faster.
What You Can Do
The first thing you need to do is make sure your treating physician is aware of the problems you’re having with your feet and hands. Then you can take steps to help yourself.
• Get plenty of rest
• Pace yourself and limit your activities
• Exercise regularly – walking and swimming are good exercises for neuropathy patients
• Take care of your skin and pay close attention to your feet and hands
• If you smoke, stop
• Eat a healthy, well balanced diet
If you are suffering from peripheral neuropathy in your hands and feet, pay particular attention to those areas and contact your NeuropathyDR® specialist immediately if you notice any blisters, sores, torn skin, or inflammation. The combination of your diabetes, cancer, infectious disease or other underlying medical problem can lead to very serious infections that are slow or impossible to heal. This can lead to dire complications that can be avoided if you receive the proper medical treatment early.
Make sure you’re doing a visual inspection and not relying on soreness or pain. Your peripheral neuropathy will impair your ability to feel pain in your extremities and you may not notice the problem until it’s too late for successful treatment.
Assess your current medical situation and take note of any of the symptoms we described. If you are experiencing any of these issues associated with peripheral neuropathy in your hands and feet, contact your local NeuropathyDR® and take full advantage of their expertise in the treatment of peripheral neuropathies.
For more information on coping with diabetic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.
If You’d Like personal help or referral to one of our licensed clinicians, call us at 781-659-7989