Pins and needles sensations in the feet and hands can happen to anyone if they lose circulation to that body part for a time. Unfortunately, some people experience this sensation constantly without an immediate external cause. This feeling is a common indicator that you may have nerve damage in your feet or hands known as peripheral neuropathy. If you are living with these symptoms it is important to seek help when you first notice the symptoms. Delaying diagnosis and treatment can cause serious health problems, as discussed in this article.
Causes of Neuropathy
There are several causes of peripheral neuropathy, including, but not limited to:
- Diabetes (the most common cause)
- Cancer Treatment Drugs
- Neurological Disorders like Fibromyalgia
Getting a diagnosis and early treatment is critical for your health. If your doctor can identify and address the underlying cause of neuropathy before the nerve damage becomes extensive, the nerves may have a chance to heal. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, you may run into the following problems:
Like many other cells and tissues in the body, our nerves have the ability to heal themselves, under the right conditions. Preventing your peripheral neuropathy from getting worse requires determining what is causing the damage and what can be done to help the nerves heal.
To function properly and heal as needed, nerves need constant nourishment. For nerve cells, this nutrition comes in the form of vitamins and minerals, oxygen, and blood circulation. If one or all of these are lacking, nerve damage will occur, leaving you feeling pins and needles or nothing at all when you walk.
Seeking treatment early to correct deficiencies in circulation, oxygen, or nutrient supplies to your nerves can help mitigate and potentially improve your symptoms and nerve health.
Many daily tasks become more difficult with less feeling in your hands and feet. Even walking across the room or down to the curb to get the mail can present a unique challenge when you can’t feel the surface you are walking on due to foot numbness. Peripheral neuropathy sometimes makes it more challenging to balance or stay on your feet and can lead to falls resulting in broken bones. A broken hip can take months to fully heal, during which time you may lose muscle mass and strength while in bed working toward recovery.
Doing all you can to prevent or reverse nerve damage when you first notice the symptoms can prevent expensive medical care and improve your quality of life for years to come.
If someone with neuropathy gets injured, they may not notice the damage or understand the extent of the injury. After all, it is our nerves that tell our brain that we have an injury. It is especially easy to overlook cuts or ulcers that form on the feet when we can’t feel them, as our feet are often covered by socks or shoes. The situation is further complicated by the fact that our feet are difficult to visually inspect thoroughly, especially as we become less flexible with age.
As an example, consider those with diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is a common side effect of the disease that can lead to tingling and eventually numbness in the feet. An individual with diabetes may get a blister walking in a pair of new shoes or cut their foot on a sharp object and never feel it. If they don’t notice it immediately, and treat it appropriately, a small injury can cause more significant problems.
Bacterial infections can set in, which their compromised immune systems cannot fight. Staph infections are not instantly visible. You might only see a slight redness and swelling. But the infection can eat through the surrounding tissue, fill with pus, and poison your blood as it grows.
Instead of simply cleaning out the wound and covering it, the individual now needs medical treatment for a serious foot infection. The worst part is it’s preventable with a bit of daily self-care. Check your feet daily for blisters, hot spots, cuts, or scrapes. Treat every injury. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and don’t rub. And manage your blood sugar according to your doctor’s instructions.
If the infection lasts too long, the tissue surrounding the injury dies. If antibiotics can’t keep up with the infection trying to poison you or the necrosis (dead tissue) spreads too far, the final option for controlling the infection and saving your life is to amputate. It is not uncommon for people with diabetes to have multiple amputations, losing toe after toe or their whole foot.
Again, daily self-care and immediate wound treatment are necessary. If the skin around the wound gets hot or the redness spreads, these are signs of an infection. Seek medical attention immediately.
If you cannot feel your feet, you may wear shoes that don’t fit properly, put increased pressure on the wrong parts of your foot, or step wrong repeatedly. Charcot Neuropathic Osteoarthropathy (Charcot for short) is a condition where your bones get microfractures from unusual stress. The body is resilient when it functions in proper alignment. But stress pushing the bone in a direction it is not supposed to go will take its toll over time. The bone then breaks down, causing deformities.
The Bottom Line
Suppose you have tingling, pins and needles, burning, constant itching, or other nerve sensations that persist. In that case, it’s time to seek medical attention. Your doctor will be able to check for an underlying cause.
Addressing the cause and learning how to manage the condition so you don’t run into serious problems is essential. Early diagnosis and treatment can save you from pricey hospital bills, immense discomfort, losing appendages, and even death.
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, texts, graphics, images, and other material contained in this article are for informational purposes only. None of the material mentioned is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.