Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage that affects the long nerves that go from the brain to the arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes.
These long (peripheral) nerves give us the ability to feel pain, touch, temperatures, position, and vibration (Sensory Nerves). They are also used for movement, muscle tone, and coordination (Motor Nerves).
Peripheral neuropathy most often affects arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes.
When sensory nerves are damaged, symptoms may include:
- Feelings of tingling, “pins and needles,” cold, pinching, burning, or electric shocks (paresthesia)
- Feeling an unpleasant sensation when touching or being touched (dysesthesia)
- Numbness or decreased feeling (anesthesia)
- A sense that you can’t feel the floor under your feet or the shape of an object in your hand
- Trouble with feeling the difference between hot or cold temperatures
- Slipping out of your shoes if they are untied or if they don’t come up over the instep of your foot
Symptoms when motor nerves are damaged may include:
- Problems with balance, tripping, or falling
- Trouble buttoning your shirt or tying your shoes, and trouble picking-up and holding objects
- Problems doing tasks that need muscle strength and coordination
Other nerve-related symptoms can include dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of balance and clumsiness.
If you have severe numbness you may not feel a new wound in your hands or feet. If wounds are not found early, they can lead to bad infections.
Some describe peripheral neuropathy as having a “Stocking and Glove Pattern”, where the numbness and tingling does not go above your wrist (the glove part) or over your ankle (the stocking part).
Symptoms may go away over time once chemotherapy has stopped. Yet as nerves heal, there may be an increase in symptoms.