- Nerve Damage in the Feet a Prominent Consequence of Diabetes
- The Truth About Diabetic Foot Numbness
- Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Cause Your Feet to Go Numb?
- Numbness in the Heel?
- Who Is At Risk For Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
- Treatment Options For Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- What is Tarsal Tunnel Surgery?
- How is neuropathy treated?
- How do I prevent diabetic neuropathy?
- Why is foot care so important?
- What does numbness in the hands or feet mean?
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TYPE OF ARTICLE
Diabetes, Neuropathy, Glucose, Tolerance
Newswise — Adult onset, or type 2 diabetes, is a growing problem in the United States. Researchers estimate that about 10 percent of Americans will develop diabetes during their lifetime and about twice that number will develop a milder form of diabetes called impaired glucose tolerance, or pre-diabetes. Diabetes and pre-diabetes often do not present any symptoms until a complication arises, making the disease difficult for patients to detect.
Physicians already know that people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes with lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise. Likewise, people with pre-diabetic neuropathy may be able to reduce their risk for developing severe nerve disease. They may even be able to reverse the neuropathy.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System are investigating neuropathy, or nerve damage characterized by a persistent tingling, burning or numbness in the hands and feet, as an early warning sign of pre-diabetes. Their preliminary research also suggests that lifestyle modifications, including weight loss and regular exercise, may be able to prevent further nerve damage among patients with pre-diabetes and ” very possibly ” reverse the damage.
“Adult onset, or type 2 diabetes, is a considerable problem in the United States, as well as in many western countries,” says James Russell, M.D., a U-M associate professor of Neurology. “We estimate that about 16 to 20 million Americans already have pre-diabetes but, in fact, this may be an underestimate.”
UMHS, which is very active in diabetes research, is conducting a study, along with universities such as the University of Utah and Yale, that looks at neuropathy associated with impaired glucose tolerance.
“People may notice they have an increased tingling or burning in their arms or legs, or even significant pain in their feet. This may be one of the earliest warning signs,” Russell says.
According to Russell, patients with pre-diabetes have a higher rate of developing neuropathy. Many of his clinic’s patients who don’t seem to have a cause for their neuropathy have abnormalities of their glucose regulation – approximately 30 percent to 50 percent. “We will have to wait for the final results to be published from this study in about two years, but it is exciting to see that the prospect of reversing nerve damage may be validated in the final results,” Russell says.
Study participants are asked to reduce their body weight by about 7 percent and have a goal of exercising 150 minutes a week.
“In this study, we encourage people who are struggling with the exercise part to do whatever is appropriate to them. We’re not trying to make them into marathon runners, we’re simply trying to have them adopt a healthier lifestyle. And the benefits, even with fairly small changes in daily routine, are very, very important to patients’ overall health,” Russell says.
He advises people with persistent tingling or prickling in the arms, legs or feet ” particularly if the sensation in the feet is a burning pain ” to talk to their health care provider, especially if the pain is persistent.
Know your risk factors
Obesity is a known risk factor for pre-diabetes and diabetes. There has been a 60 percent increase over the past 20 years in the number of people in the United States who are obese. The number of children with obesity has tripled in the same time period. Experts believe that this increase in obesity is also helping to fuel the increasing numbers of people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Lack of exercise, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides and other types of body fats are also contributors. Diabetes and pre-diabetes are more common in people who are middle aged or older, and in certain Native American, Hispanic or African American groups.
Signs and symptoms
The majority of people who develop diabetes or pre-diabetes probably won’t know they have the condition until a noticeable symptom or complication arises. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, once you have developed type 2 diabetes, symptoms can include:
“¢ increased thirst “¢ increased hunger “¢ fatigue “¢ increased urination, especially at night “¢ weight loss “¢ blurred vision “¢ sores that do not heal
“If you are at risk of developing diabetes, we want to prevent you from developing these symptoms of diabetes before they occur. In other words, by the time you have the symptoms, you already have the disease. That’s why it’s important for people to understand how much lifestyle factors can influence the delay, or even prevention of diabetes and pre-diabetes. For those at risk, it’s never too early to make a change,” Russell says.
For more information, visit the following Web sites:
Health Topics A ” Z: Complications of diabetes: nerve damage (neuropathy)http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/aha_dianeu_crs.htm
UMHS: A new cocktail treatment for diabetic neuropathyhttp://www.med.umich.edu/pfund/dart.htm
UMHS: Diabetic neuropathyhttp://www.med.umich.edu/pfund/diabetic.htm
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Diabetic neuropathy information pagehttp://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/diabetic/diabetic.htm
Nerve Damage in the Feet a Prominent Consequence of Diabetes
BETHESDA, Md., Nov. 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The American Podiatric Medical Association announced today a new public education campaign, Don’t Lose Your Nerve to Diabetes. The campaign will educate the public about the importance of preventing diabetic peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) before it happens and will underscore the critical role podiatrists play in treating diabetes and complications such as neuropathy.
Neuropathy is caused by blood sugar levels that get too high or too low, damaging the nerves that lead to the feet and preventing them from functioning properly. The result could be anything from intensely painful burning, tingling sensations to numbness and heaviness in the feet. Those who lose sensation altogether may not notice an injury or sore, which could lead to a serious infection. Numbness can also lead to balance problems or cause a fall.
Startling statistics indicate as many as 70 percent of people with diabetes suffer from neuropathy, and the nerve damage is most often permanent. Visiting a podiatrist regularly can help patients avoid peripheral neuropathy and address the symptoms if nerve damage does occur.
“Pain or numbness in your feet is never normal,” said APMA President David G. Edwards, DPM. “What you can’t feel can hurt you. Daily self-exams are critical for people with diabetes, but if you notice any changes in sensation in your feet, don’t wait to see your podiatrist!”
The Don’t Lose Your Nerve to Diabetes campaign, which takes place during November’s Diabetes Awareness Month, features educational material geared toward the public and a depth of materials for health-care providers. To learn more about the campaign, and to find a podiatrist in your area, visit www.apma.org/diabetes.
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is the nation’s leading professional organization for today’s podiatrists. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs) are qualified by their education, training, and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and structures of the leg. APMA has 53 state component locations across the United States and its territories, with a membership of more than 12,500 podiatrists. All practicing APMA members are licensed by the state in which they practice podiatric medicine. For more information, visit www.apma.org.
SOURCE American Podiatric Medical Association
The Truth About Diabetic Foot Numbness
If you have diabetes, you probably have been told to take care of your feet. This is because minor foot problems can quickly become more serious issues. One of those is diabetic foot numbness. The truth is, diabetic foot numbness is due to nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy.
What causes diabetic foot numbness?
Diabetes can cause problems in your hands and feet because of high blood sugar over time. One of those problems is diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), or nerve damage. More than 70% of people with diabetes will develop some kind of neuropathy. Symptoms are different for everyone, but you might experience pain, tingling, or total loss of feeling in your feet and toes.
Neuropathy is not only uncomfortable, but you are also more likely to develop more serious injuries such as a foot ulcers. This can happen when a small injury grows if you do not catch it early. For example, you may not feel a cut or a pebble in your shoe. If you continue to walk on the small cut or a blister without knowing, it can get worse, become infected, and develop into a foot ulcer.
This is why it’s so important to wear socks every day if you have diabetes. Protecting your feet is very important. If you are experiencing any diabetic foot numbness, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
What can I do if I have diabetic foot numbness?
Unfortunately, diabetic neuropathy cannot be cured or reversed. But the good news is that you can do things to help keep your neuropathy under control and prevent more serious injuries.
If you have neuropathy, keeping your blood sugar under control is one of the best things you can do to manage your symptoms. Sticking to a healthy diet, incorporating exercise into your routine, and talking to your doctor about medication are all good places to start.
If you’re also experiencing any pain in your feet and toes, there are products you can try to reduce pain. Foot creams, Epsom salt soaks, supplements, and even switching to diabetic shoes made to support your feet can help ease discomfort.
Disclaimer: Neuropathy symptoms may vary from individual to individual. Please consult with your doctor before pursuing any type of treatment.
Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Cause Your Feet to Go Numb?
Numbness in the feet is a symptom of neuropathy or nerve damage, one of the most common long-term complications of type 2 diabetes. Neuropathy is caused by poor blood sugar control that persists over a long period of time.
“The higher the blood sugars and the longer they stay high, the greater the chance of the person developing neuropathy,” says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at the University Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, New York.
“The nerves that get affected by high sugars tend to be the longest nerves in the body,” explains Dr. Zonszein. These nerves go from the spine to the toes, which is why the feet get affected before the arms or hands. Diabetic neuropathy also tends to be bilateral. “Both feet will be affected equally,” he says.
If blood sugar remains poorly controlled, it can lead to serious complications. In the feet, diabetic neuropathy can not only cause numbness but pain and injuries. It can change the shape of your feet, deforming them so they no longer fit into regular shoes. It can also dry out and damage your skin, cause calluses and ulcers on your feet, and interfere with circulation. The numbness also makes it hard to tell if there is a cut or injury which can increase your risk of infections and amputation.
People with diabetes are also at an increased risk for amputation. In 2010, approximately 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed on adults (20 years or older) diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The good news is that most amputations are preventable when you manage your diabetes well, take good care of your feet, and wear proper footwear. If you have circulatory problems or you’ve already been diagnosed with neuropathy, you’ll benefit from seeing a podiatrist as well as your endocrinologist.
If you’re concerned you may have neuropathy or if you experience any redness, cracks, pus, ulcers, or other signs of infection in your feet, Zonszein advises going to see your doctor immediately.
The most effective way to prevent or delay diabetic nerve damage is to maintain good control of your blood sugar. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol is also important. “Lipids have an indirect effect on neuropathy,” says Zonszein.
He also emphasizes the importance of exercise and a healthy diet — and maintaining a healthy weight; which will address your overall cardiovascular and cholesterol health. “Patients who are overweight or obese tend to develop more neuropathy and more arthritic problems and pain in their feet because of the weight,” he adds.
Finally, your doctor may also want to check to make sure you don’t have a vitamin B deficiency. One of the most common medications used to treat diabetes, Metformin, can cause a deficiency in folic acid and vitamin B-12 in about 10 percent of the people who take it, warns Zonszein.
While maintaining good blood sugar control can help prevent or delay neuropathy, there is no cure once the nerves are damaged for a long period of time; the medications that are available only treat symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. However, researchers have seen some promising results in recent studies with mice. One published in the July 2015 issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology suggests that fish oil (specifically omega-3 fatty acids) may help reverse or slow the progression of diabetic neuropathy.
Overall, Zonszein says that he has been seeing less and less neuropathy, which he attributes to earlier diagnosis, better treatments, and patients working with their doctors to take charge of the disease. “People with diabetes are doing much better nowadays. We’re seeing complications less often and much later in the disease,” he says. “That’s an important message to patients.”
Overview of treatment approaches:
• Nondrug therapies
• Relaxation and biofeedback
• Anodyne therapy
• Daily foot care
Diabetes is hard on feet. Because the feet are farthest from the heart, any problems with blood flow can leave feet without enough circulation. Results can include numbness, loss of foot strength, and worse. Fortunately, there are some good ways to heal and protect your feet.
As Birgitta I. Rice, MS, RPh, CHES, wrote here, much of the pain and numbness people with diabetes experience comes from nerve damage. The nerves are injured both by poor circulation and by high glucose levels.
We really need healthy nerves. (As a person with a nerve disease, I know about this.) According to Rice, “Loss of nerve fibers can result in muscle weakness, numbness, loss of reflexes, foot deformities, change in gait, and impaired balance and coordination. Loss of sensitivity to pain or temperature can also occur, leading in turn to blisters and sores from foot injuries that go unfelt.”
Numbness is dangerous. Sometimes, people can have a pebble in their shoe and not notice it. Others may get in a hot bath and not realize their feet are being scalded. These kinds of seemingly minor things can lead to infections, which don’t heal because of having poor circulation. This is the major pathway to losing a leg to amputation. People with diabetes are eight times more likely than other people to have a lower leg amputated.
If you just woke up one day with numb feet, you would notice a big difference and ask about ways to treat it. It doesn’t work that way, though. Numbness comes on slowly over years, so you don’t notice day-to-day changes. Also, severe pain often comes before numbness, so that the numbness is perceived as a relief rather than a problem at first.
The relief of numbness comes with major costs, though. Numbness may make muscles weaker and balance less steady. So people are more likely to fall, and their feet can become deformed by walking wrong, since they can’t feel where the pressure is. So how can we protect our foot nerves?
There are many drugs for nerve pain, but not much for numbness. Lowering blood glucose and blood pressure will improve circulation, however, and drugs are one way to do that.
Nondrug therapies for feet include creams and oils for the skin, such as L-arginine cream. Aromatherapy with scents such as geranium and lavender are recommended by herbalists to improve circulation.
Relaxation and biofeedback
There is a trademarked technique called WarmFeet that many diabetes educators swear by. Regular practice with WarmFeet has been shown to increase circulation, lower blood pressure, and improve coping skills.
The technique starts with relaxation. Then you visualize (imagine) feet warming and healing.
WarmFeet also includes biofeedback. A temperature sensor tells you if your feet are warming or cooling. You can notice what patterns of thoughts and breathing cause the feet to warm up, and try to stay in that mental state.
In a study at the University of Wisconsin, 18 people with chronic, nonhealing ulcers had total healing of the wounds and improved sensation in their feet after using WarmFeet regularly for 12–13 weeks.
You can read more about WarmFeet here. The kit costs about $23.
Anodyne therapy is application of infrared light that supposedly improves circulation and even grows new blood vessels. Some studies show benefits and others don’t.
It was interesting to read this article from Diabetes Care that showed anodyne therapy to be no better than placebo (sham) therapy. The sham therapy involved putting the same pads on the legs and feet as in the anodyne therapy, but the infrared lights were turned off. Instead, there were heaters that kept the leg at the same temperature the light would have, so subjects wouldn’t know the difference.
The sham therapy group did as well as the anodyne group, but maybe this shows that they both work. Both treatments are pleasant, warming, and relaxing, so maybe they worked like the warm feet treatment — through relaxation. Anodyne treatments are either done in a podiatrist’s office or at home. A home set costs roughly $950 new or $550 “reconditioned.” Insurance typically does not cover it.
Exercise is effective treatment for neuropathy, but numbness and pain can make exercise hard to do. WebMD suggests low-impact practices like cycling, swimming, or sitting aerobics. They say don’t make it too hard — it’s not about feeling the burn, it’s about having an active life. Doing fun things, social things like dancing or mall walking, practical things like yard work or gardening — just getting used to moving more — is all the exercise you need.
Massage — either partner or self-massage. Gentle touch helps circulation and nerve function and reduces stress.
Daily foot care
Foot care. Daily foot inspection and care is crucial to preventing sores and infections. Read a good article on caring for your feet here.
The bottom line is to give your feet and your whole body some love and attention. Take the time for some relaxation or gentle exercise. Slow your mind down, move your body more, enjoy your life. Your feet will start to enjoy it more, too.
If you have found any ways to improve foot pain or numbness, or things that are supposed to work but don’t, please let us know with a comment.
Want to learn more about managing neuropathy? Read “Coping With Painful Neuropathy” and “Controlling Neuropathic Pain.”
Numbness in the Heel?
Who Is At Risk For Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome can occur at any age, but specific factors may make you more prone to developing this condition. Check this list to see if any of the risk factors apply to you:
- The presence of any disease, including arthritis, that causes swelling. Swelling can result in the tibial nerve becoming compressed in the foot.
- A physical anomaly, such as a swollen tendon, a heel spur, a ganglion cyst or a varicose vein. These physical abnormalities can result in nerve compression.
- Conditions such as fallen arches or flat feet can trigger compression of the tibial nerve.
- An irregular gait that puts undue pressure on the tarsal tunnel.
- Participation in high-impact sports such as running and basketball.
- An injury to the ankle bone, such as a sprain, which results in nerve compression.
If you are experiencing prolonged numbness in one or both heels and have noticed that any of the above factors apply to you, you should seek medical attention to receive an expert diagnosis. Your General Practitioner may refer you to a neurologist who will conduct a variety of tests, including an EMG, X-ray, CT or MRI in order to reach a diagnosis. Depending on the medical findings, you will then be able to explore a variety of treatment options.
Treatment Options For Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Whenever possible, conservative, non-invasive treatment methods should be utilized to resolve the cause and symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. While extreme cases may require surgery, many Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome sufferers can recover with a combination of the following aides:
- Resting the foot; abstaining from activities that put pressure on the tarsal tunnel (ankle and foot)
- Icing the foot to reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from symptoms
- The use of anti-inflammatory medicines, as prescribed by a doctor
- The use of steroid injections, under the care of a physician
- The use of orthotics, such as braces, splints or inserts, at the recommendation of a doctor
If none of the above non-invasive modalities result in resolution of heel numbness and pain, your doctor may suggest surgery.
What is Tarsal Tunnel Surgery?
Tarsal tunnel release surgery is typically an out-patient procedure requiring general anesthesia or possibly a combination of local, IV sedation, and epidural. The surgeon makes a small incision behind the inner ankle bone, opens the tarsal tunnel and releases the tibial nerve at all compression points. The incision is then sutured closed and the sutures are typically removed after about ten days.
An ace bandage will be wrapped around the treated area of the foot and should be worn at all times for the time period specified by the surgeon. The goal of tarsal tunnel release surgery is complete healing from symptoms, and most, but not all patients will enjoy a successful outcome from the procedure. Before undergoing surgery of any kind, please discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with your doctor.
The primary way to treat nerve damage is to spend extra emphasis on maintaining good control of blood sugar levels. If neuropathy is causing pain or discomfort, painkillers may be prescribed to reduce these symptoms.
Download a FREE reversing complications guide for your phone, desktop or as a printout.
How is neuropathy treated?
Diffuse neuropathy is treated by bringing blood glucose levels under control and keeping them well regulated. This can help to prevent problems from this diabetic complication.
Diet, exercise or medication may be adjusted to reach these goals. Exercise can be particularly effective, helping the patient to improve circulation, strengthen muscle and lose weight.
Smoking should be stopped and the amount of alcohol consumed should be reduced. Taking regular care of your feet and skin is essential.
Nerve damage in the digestive system can lead to constipatio, and sometimes diabetic gastroparesis The oesophagus may become affected, making the swallowing of food difficult. The urinary tract may also be affected, and at the worst stages this can cause urinary incontinence.
Also, neuropathy can decrease sexual response in both men and women. The sweat glands may also be affected, and the body may not be able to control temperature properly. Furthermore, the eyes can suffer problems leaving them less sensitive to changes in light.
Proximal neuropathy affects the hips, buttocks and thighs, and results in weakness of the legs. This type of neuropathy occurs more regularly in type 2 diabetics and in older people. It can weaken the legs, sometimes to the extent of limiting mobility.
Focal neuropathy is manifested in the rapid weakness of a nerve, or group of nerves, leaving the muscles weak and/or in pain.
Focal neuropathy can affect any nerve in the body, but usually occurs in the torso, leg or head. It can cause a variety of complications, including inability to focus, double vision, aching behind the eye, paralysis, lower back pain, pain in various places throughout the body. It is both unpredictable and painful, and usually affects the elderly.
How do I prevent diabetic neuropathy?
Maintaining consistently normal blood glucose levels is the best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy. Keeping levels stable protects the nerves.
Why is foot care so important?
Peripheral neuropathy makes the foot incredibly vulnerable – hence foot care and general skin care is very important.
Because one of the signs of neuropathy is a loss of feeling, feet should be checked daily for cuts, sores, blisters, bruises and cracked or dry skin. If you notice anything unusual, get to your doctor as soon as possible.
People tend to think of diabetes as a silent, painless condition. Don’t tell that to the millions of folks with diabetes-induced tingling toes or painful feet. This problem, called diabetic neuropathy, can range from merely aggravating to disabling or even life threatening. It’s something I have first-hand (or, more appropriately, first-foot) knowledge about.
High blood sugar, the hallmark of diabetes, injures nerves and blood vessels throughout the body. The first nerves to be affected tend to be the smallest ones furthest from the spinal cord—those that stretch to the toes and feet.
Diabetic neuropathy affects different people in different ways. I feel it as a tingling in my toes. Moving my feet and wiggling my toes helps the tingling disappear for a while. Others have it much worse. Diabetic neuropathy can cause a constant burning feeling in the feet; sharp pain that may be worse at night; and extreme sensitivity to touch, making the weight of a sheet unbearable. It can be sneaky, too, and completely rob the feet of their ability to sense pain.
The truly scary thing about diabetic neuropathy is a 10-letter word we usually associate with horrific accidents or Civil War battlefields—amputation. When sensory nerves in the feet become damaged, a blister, cut, or sore can go unnoticed, allowing time for the wound to become infected.
Infections that cause tissue to die (gangrene) and that spread to the bone may be impossible to treat with cleansing and antibiotics. Diabetes accounts for about 70,000 lower-limb amputations in the United States each year.
Protecting your feet
So far, there isn’t a cure for diabetic neuropathy. To get a handle on ways to help prevent it from appearing and for coping with it when it does, I spoke with Dr. Christopher H. Gibbons, director of the neuropathy clinic at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
The most important thing you can do is keep your blood sugar as close as possible to your daily and longer-term targets, says Dr. Gibbons. This can stave off the onset of diabetic neuropathy. It also helps keep foot problems in check. Other strategies include:
Control blood pressure. Like high blood sugar, high blood pressure damages blood vessels. This interferes with circulation to the feet, and contributes to nerve damage.
Stop smoking. Smoking interferes with blood circulation, and so compounds the effects of nerve and blood vessel damage.
Stay active. If you can walk or run, do it. If your feet hurt too much, exercise your arms and legs.
Slim down. For people who are overweight, losing weight improves the body’s ability to control blood sugar and it also takes some pressure off the feet.
Several prescription medications are available for treating diabetic neuropathy. “Keep in mind that these drugs only treat pain; they don’t do anything to slow or reverse diabetic neuropathy,” cautions Dr. Gibbons. Non-drug options that work for some people include acupuncture, biofeedback, and transcutaneous nerve stimulation.
Check your feet
If you have diabetes, your doctor should examine your feet at least once a year. In addition to looking for obvious problems, he or she will check them for the loss of sensation.
On the other 364 days, you should check your own feet. Look for blisters, cuts, cracked skin, ingrown toenails, or anything else that could give bacteria entry to your body. Clean and fix any problem, and then keep an eye on it. If a wound doesn’t heal, see your doctor right away.
If your joints aren’t as flexible as they used to be, and you have trouble seeing the bottom of your foot, Dr. Gibbons recommends this trick: place a mirror face-up on the floor. Hold your foot over it and voila—you can see the bottom without contorting yourself.
More information on diabetes-related foot problems and good foot care is available from the American Diabetes Association and the Joslin Diabetes Center.
What does numbness in the hands or feet mean?
What is peripheral neuropathy?
“Peripheral neuropathy”refers to any damage to nerves in the body’s extremities, such as the hands, feet and arms. This can lead to symptoms such as pins and needles or a numbness in your feet that gradually moves up to your legs, or likewise, from your fingers up into your arms. In rare occasions this sensation can be a sign of leukaemia, and is reported by approximately 6% of leukaemia patients before they are diagnosed.
Other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include;
- Often described as sharp, burning or jabbing sensation.
- Lack of co-ordination and dexterity.
- Altered sensation, for example, feeling pain or heat when touching something cold.
What causes peripheral neuropathy in leukaemia?
Nerves of the peripheral nervous system transmit information from the extremities of the body to the spinal cord and brain. Leukaemia or lymphoma cells in the blood can sometimes produce chemicals called “paraproteins”which attach to these nerves endings causing temporary damage, resulting in tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet. It usually gets worse over time and spreads as the cancerous cells increase in number.
High levels of white blood cells in the blood can also sometimes cause the blood to thicken and clog up small vessels leading to a group of symptoms known collectively as hyperviscocity syndrome.Peripheral neuropathy will sometimes occur if small blood vessels surrounding peripheral nerves are blocked.
When should I be concerned?
It is important to know that leukaemia is rarely the cause of peripheral neuropathy. More common causes range from diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, vitamin B12 deficiency to infection or reactions to certain medicines.
However, if you do notice any of the above symptoms, it is crucial that you visit your GP to properly investigate the underlying cause. Make sure to push for a blood test if you are experiencing any other symptoms of leukaemia.
Knowing what other symptoms are typical of leukaemia is crucial for helping you make the decision to visit your GP sooner for a blood test. Connect the dots between the symptoms of leukaemia and spot leukaemia sooner.
For information on the other symptoms of leukaemia, click here.