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Posts Tagged ‘Myelin’

Why do I have Numbness in my Fingers?

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

 

 

If your fingers feel numb and tingly more often than usual, then it can indicate a problem with your nerve endings or blood flow.  Paresthesia- annoying “pins and needles” in your hands, fingertips, feet, and toes happens a lot with vitamin B12 deficiency and other conditions that affect the nervous system. Listed are some reasons that people get painful numbness in the extremities.

Why do I have Numbness in my Fingers?

Nerve damage from vitamin B12 deficiency

Painful numbness and tingling in the hands and feet are some of the first signs of peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) caused by vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia (severely low vitamin B12). People often complain about their hands or legs constantly “going to sleep” before they even get their vitamin B12 blood levels checked.

The reason for this is that vitamin B12 is absolutely critical for a healthy nervous system, as it helps to maintain myelin, a protective coating that shields your nerve cells from harm and also enhances communication along the network of synapses.

Unchecked, vitamin B12 levels will continue to decline, leading to even worse symptoms of nerve cell damage and other debilitating ailments; depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, brain fog, and memory problems are all conditions linked with pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency.

Pain and Numbness from Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you experience any of the symptoms listed, then see a doctor. Ask for a blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency. Or, start taking vitamin B12 supplements right away, and see if you notice any improvement. Vitamin B12 is safe to take in any amount, so you don’t need to worry about taking too much.

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that erodes myelin- the same substance the goes under attack with vitamin B12 deficiency. Numbness and tingling is a minor symptom of MS; for some, nerve damage impairs your ability to walk or speak without severe difficulty.

Diabetes

Diabetic neuropathy- nerve damage caused by symptoms of type 2 diabetes- is also a possible cause for constant numbness in your fingertips and toes. If it occurs, speak to your doctor. If you are diabetic, then you should be in the habit of testing your hands and legs for signs of numbness, and checking for wounds.

Help- My Legs keep Falling Asleep!

Carpal tunnel syndrome

If you work at a computer all day, then it’s normal for your fingers to go numb every now and then from the constant tap-tap-tapping at the keyboard. Carpal tunnel syndrome, which you get from repetitive hand motions, is a common cause of pain in the fingers, hands, and wrists. You can also get this from knitting, gaming, and playing the piano.

To treat, make a habit of taking a break every 20 minutes. If you have a hard time remembering, then set a timer to warn you when you should stop, stretch your fingers, and twirl your wrists, even for just a few minutes.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

Common in people with lupus, Raynaud’s disease causes numbness or cooling in the extremities, including the fingers, toes, nose, and ears. This happens because of inadequate blood flow to these areas.

Do you know any other conditions that cause painful numbness in the fingers, hands, legs, and feet? Please comment below!

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Fibromyalgia Pain Types

Image courtesy of Juliana Coutinho

Pain and Numbness from Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Monday, October 7th, 2013

 

 

If you suffer from pins and needles and painful burning or tingling in your hands and feet, then you may have vitamin B12 deficiency. There are many causes of chronic pain and numbness, most of them strongly linked to extremely low vitamin B12 levels or resulting  pernicious anemia.

Pain and Numbness from Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Getting enough vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for your nervous system, but sometimes we don’t get enough, either because of diet or underlying health issues.

Eating a vegan diet devoid of B12-rich meats, fish, and cheese is one way of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, but it is also common in the elderly and people who have had gastrointestinal surgery such as gastric bypass.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur with migraine, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain, as autoimmune history and gastrointestinal problems combine to further raise your chances for developing vitamin B12 deficiency and resulting nerve pain.

If you’re experiencing constant nerve pain and numbness, then you should consider vitamin B12 deficiency as a possible cause.

Vitamin B12 deficiency neuropathy

Neuropathy is any kind of nerve damage that causes intense pain and numbness. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms of nerve pain, but it can also occur as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency or, if prolonged, pernicious anemia.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency neuropathy include:

  • Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Burning or itchy skin rashes
  • Sore burning tongue
  • Difficulty controlling arm and leg movements
  • Muscle spasms

Vitamin B12 and your nerves

Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system by sustaining myelin, a fatty substance that insulates your nerve fibers and enhances intercellular communication, so that sensory messages travel along the spinal cord to the brain quickly and efficiently.

When vitamin B12 levels become depleted, you suffer symptoms resulting from demyelination, destruction of the nerve cell’s outer coating. This is the same process that occurs in patients of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Nervous impulses become slower, and symptoms of tingling, burning, pain and numbness from vitamin B12 deficiency become more frequent.

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can impair your nervous system and cause severe handicaps.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Diabetes

Vitamin B12 deficiency is often comorbid with diabetes. Diabetics taking metformin are at a high risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, as metformin is one of several drugs that prevent absorption of vitamin B12 from foods.

If you are a diabetic using metformin, then it’s crucial sustain vitamin B12 levels through supplementation.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Fibromyalgia Pain Types

Vitamin B12 deficiency is harder to diagnose in people with diabetes, as the symptoms of pain and numbness are already masked by preexisting diabetic neuropathy. Routine vitamin B12 blood tests are recommended for all diabetics using metformin.

Treating nerve pain and numbness

If nerve pain results from vitamin B12 deficiency, then it’s important to boost your intake of vitamin B12 immediately.

The best, most digestible sources of vitamin B12 are non-dietary supplements that are absorbed into your bloodstream, as opposed to vitamin B12 pills that you swallow.

For best results, start out with 1,000mcg of vitamin B12 weekly or more often, as needed or recommended by your doctor.

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants for neuropathic pain, or he may advise anti-convulsant drugs. All of these, over extended periods of time, may result in uncomfortable side effects, so use with caution.

Topical treatments used to relive arthritis may help to relieve nerve pain, without any harmful side effects.

Your turn!

If you suffer nerve pain and numbness, have you been tested for vitamin B12 deficiency?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

Do-It-Yourself Chronic Pain Management- 6 Helpful Tips

Help- My Legs keep Falling Asleep!

What are the Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia- B12 deficiency?

Image courtesy of marin/freedigitalphotos

If Vitamin B12 Deficiency Mimics Multiple Sclerosis, How do you tell the Difference?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

 

 

Many studies show similarities between the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency and multiple sclerosis (MS).  There is also a very high rate of B12 deficiency among people diagnosed with MS.  How, then, does one differentiate between pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency) and multiple sclerosis?

IF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY MIMICS MULTIPLE=

What is MS?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects your central nervous system- your brain and spinal cord.  It typically strikes young adults between the ages of 20-40, most of them women.  

The exact cause of MS is unknown, but most scientists believe it is an autoimmune disorder.  With multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune reaction attacks myelin, a fatty substance that insulates your nerve fibers responsible for transmitting messages to the rest of your body.  

Signs of demyelination are random lesions, or plaques (sclerosis) in the brain and spinal cord, in multiple areas, thus the term “multiple sclerosis.”

What is B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when your body is unable to maintain sufficient stores of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in the blood.  There are several reasons this may happen, such as not eating food sources of vitamin B12 (meat, fish, and milk), or having a gastrointestinal disorder that interferes with vitamin B12 absorption. 

With pernicious anemia (PA), your body cannot make intrinsic factor (IF), a protein necessary for digesting vitamin B12, due to an autoimmune disorder.  

Among its many other benefits, vitamin B12 is essential for building up the fatty myelin sheath.  One of the symptoms of PA is demyelination, the same type of brain damage that occurs with MS.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency- pernicious anemia are both autoimmune disorders.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both involve damage to the nervous system’s myelin sheath.

What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

The earliest symptoms of MS may include:

  • Muscular weakness in one or more limbs
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Loss of balance
  • Vision problems or eye pain
  • Slurred speech

As the disease advances, symptoms worsen, including:

  • Chronic fatigue, despite getting plenty of rest and not overexerting yourself
  • Hypersensitivity to heat, such as hot showers or baths
  • Muscular spasms in the legs and arms
  • Bladder or bowel control problems
  • Lightheadedness, or vertigo caused by nerve damage
  • Cognitive impairment- “brain fog,” slowed thinking, lack of concentration, or memory loss
  • Vision problems- blurring or graying of vision, or temporary blindness in one eye
  • Painful “pins and needles” sensations, numbness, itching, or burning
  • Speech and swallowing problems caused by damaged nerves
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling, caused by muscle weakness, spasticity, or loss of balance from vertigo
  • Paralysis

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

The most common symptoms of B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia are:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Painful “pins and needles” or numbness in hands and feet
  • Sore, swollen red tongue
  • Burning mouth sensation
  • Difficulty walking without stumbling
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • “Brain fog”
  • Shortness of breath

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both cause nerve damage, including painful tingling or numbness in the hands and feet and impaired gait.

*Multiple sclerosis and vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia both cause cognitive impairment, like brain fog, memory loss, and low concentration.

Which tests diagnose multiple sclerosis?

There is more than one test used to confirm MS, and your doctor will need to use the process of elimination to exclude other illnesses.  Some common tests and indicators are:

  • MRI scan indicating at least two incidences myelin damage- scar tissue (lesions)
  • Neurological exams
  • Blood tests
  • Spinal tap
  • Evoked potentials, an electrical test of your nervous impulses

Which tests diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency?

Only one test is required to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency- a blood test indicating low blood serum levels of vitamin B12.  Patients of pernicious anemia require routine blood tests in order to monitor their B12 levels.

What’s the best treatment for multiple sclerosis?

There is no cure for MS, but various medications are helpful for dealing with the symptoms.

  • Some prescribed medicines work by controlling your body’s autoimmune response, thus reducing the frequency and severity of MS symptoms.
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a controversial surgery used to treat debilitating tremors in people with MS. Complications may include paralysis, loss of vision, or loss of speech.
  • Alternative medicine options that benefits MS patients include physical therapy, exercise like yoga or tai chi, acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, massage, and vitamin supplementation.

What’s the best treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency?

There are many kinds of B12 supplements on the market, but it’s important to be certain if you are able to digest vitamin B12 in the stomach. If you lack intrinsic factor, or if you’ve had gastrointestinal surgery like gastric bypass, then you will not benefit from dietary forms of vitamin B12.

  • Physicians normally prescribe a series of B12 shots for patients with pernicious anemia.  These vitamin B12 injections require a prescription, and not all health care providers cover extensive supplementation of vitamin B12 shots.
  • Sublingual vitamin B12 pills that dissolve under the tongue are another option, although they are not very effective, and they often require dosages of three times per day.

Read more about vitamin B12 symptoms:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- 4 Causes, 1 Solution

Absorbing Vitamin B12, a Metabolic Gastrointestinal Journey

Sore Burning Tongue, Dry Mouth, and Weird Tastes- What’s the Cause?

Sources:

Multiple sclerosis

Vitamin B12, demyelination, remyelination and repair in multiple sclerosis

WebMD Multiple Sclerosis Guide – Better Information for Better Health

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