What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
The body is designed with specialized cells called nerves that carry stimuli and instructions throughout the body. This nervous system includes the brain, spinal cord and the peripheral nerves. These peripheral nerves supply the outer reaches of the body, including the peripheral limbs (hands, arms, feet and legs). When these nerves function properly, they produce a protective response or reflex based on risks of injury or eminent danger. This is the signal, often called pain, that pulls a hand away from a hot plate or a finger away from a sharp thorn. When the system works well, it is is very valuable and beneficial. When the system fails, and the nerves start to malfunction, a condition called Peripheral Neuropathy or Neuropathy occurs.
Neuropathy is a malfunction or poor functioning of nerves, whether they fail to work and produce numbness and tingling or are over active causing electrical shocks or sharp, stabbing or shooting pain. The problem with this abnormal function of the nerves is it interferes with the normal protective mechanism called pain. When this protective mechanism doesn’t work, injury becomes eminent and likely. Even more problematic, however, is excessive pain that has no real stimulus or is propagated after a normally simple stimuli. Night pain may ensue, discomfort when walking barefoot, severe pain with light touch from sheets or shoes and even severe sensation of cold or burning feet. This all causes great pain that is usually the reason people search for answers.
Pain is never normal.