Do your legs keep going numb? It could be vitamin B12 deficiency. Peripheral neuropathy -nerve damage from pernicious anemia-vitamin B12 deficiency- causes symptoms like pain, burning, and tingling sensations in your fingers and toes. Find out how vitamin B12 supplements can help…
They’re like Fed Ex for your nervous system
Your peripheral nerves operate outside your brain, shunting messages between your brain and your spinal cord. They communicate signals about taste, touch, hearing, smell, and sight.
The peripheral nerves also transmit messages influencing your motor skills, muscular coordination, and autonomic reflexes like breathing, heartbeat, bowel control, and blood pressure.
Damage to your peripheral nerves is called peripheral neuropathy. Depending on which nerves are impaired, symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include disorientation, “brain fog,” loss of muscle control, “pins and needles” sensations, and digestive disorders.
Pernicious anemia-vitamin B12 deficiency is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy. (Read Do you have Franken-DNA from Pernicious Anemia?)
I think I’m having a nervous breakdown…
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary from patient to patient. Nerve damage caused by pernicious anemia may differ from neuropathy resulting from alcoholism, for example.
- Burning and painful numbness in the toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, and legs
- Decreased ability to differentiate between hot and cold
- Loss of muscular control
- Muscular feebleness
- Muscular twitching, including eyelids
- Indigestion, heartburn, and bloating even after small meals
- Acid reflux
- Bladder problems
- Sexual dysfunctions
- Sensation of food getting stuck in your throat
- Excess sweating
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
At least 20 million US citizens suffer from one of many different types of peripheral neuropathy.
About 30% of the time, doctors are unable to find a cause or cure, and the diagnosis is “idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.” (Meaning, we don’t know why you’re having nerve pain.)
Another 30% of nerve pain is related to diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the leading known causes of painful tingling, numbness, and soreness in the feet.
The remaining 30% is caused by an assortment of conditions and ailments:
- Autoimmune disorders like pernicious anemia and rheumatoid arthritis
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Kidney disease
- Toxic reaction to alcohol, drugs, or chemotherapy
- Poor circulation
Treatments for peripheral neuropathy
Not all kinds of peripheral neuropathy can be cured. However, understanding the cause, be it vitamin B12 deficiency or Crohn’s disease, can help your doctor prescribe proper coping mechanisms and lifestyle habits to avoid complications.
- If vitamin B12 deficiency is the cause, then you will need to take vitamin B12 supplements, possibly for life.
- If pernicious anemia or digestive disorder is the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, then you will have to use delivery methods that dispense vitamin B12 directly into your bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system.
- With diabetic peripheral neuropathy, you must check your feet often for blisters and cuts, in order to prevent infections.
- Daily exercise helps to improve circulation and relieve nerve pain.
- Get regular foot and hand massages to improve circulation.
- Don’t sit in the same position for a long time, and don’t put pressure on your arms and legs.
- If you suffer from Crohn’s disease or other GI disorders, then eat light meals that are low in fat, and avoid processed foods.
- Alternative treatments that are beneficial include herbal supplements, antioxidants, acupuncture, and biofeedback.
Please tell us…
Do you experience a combination of any of the symptoms described?
Most doctors don’t request vitamin B12 blood tests in routine checkups.
When was the last time you had your B12 levels checked?
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