Neuropathy is nerve damage that affects the peripheral nerves and can have many different causes. The most common type of neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy, where high blood sugar causes nerve damage. However, exposure to toxins, drugs (e.g. chemotherapy), alcohol and nutrient deficiencies can all lead to neuropathy.
The first symptoms of neuropathy affect the small nerve fibres in the hands and feet. You might experience, tingling, numbness, burning or stabbing pain. Each individual case is different in terms of which symptoms you might experience, or you may experience more a combination of one or more of these symptoms.
Numbness or a loss of sensation in the feet can be difficult to detect. As a result, this can lead to undetected foot damage, such as cuts, burns or stubbed toes. If these injuries were to go untreated they could lead to further complications such as diabetic wounds, foot ulcers and even amputation.
Home-based detection. If you think you might have numbness in your feet, close your eyes and have a loved one lightly touch your feet, starting at the toes and moving towards the ankle. If you can not feel some of the touch, see your healthcare provider for further examination and consider staring a first line nutrition therapy for neuropathy.
Clinical testing for neuropathy starts with a monofilament test. This allows a clinician to measure where you have sensation and where you do not. This can be repeated over time to measure improvements or worsening of symptoms.