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Regardless of the cause, neuropathy is associated with characteristic symptoms. Although some people with neuropathy may not have symptoms, certain symptoms are common. The degree to which an individual is affected by a particular neuropathy varies.
Damage to the sensory nerves is common in peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms often begin in the feet with a gradual onset of loss of feeling, numbness, tingling, or pain and progress toward the center of the body with time. The arms or legs may be involved. The inability to determine joint position may also occur, which can result in clumsiness or falls. Extreme sensitivity to touch can be another symptom of peripheral neuropathy. The sensation of numbness and tingling of the skin is medically known as paresthesia.
The loss of sensory input from the foot means that blisters and sores on the feet may develop rapidly and not be noticed. Because there is a reduced sensation of pain, these sores may become infected and the infection may spread to deeper tissues, including bone. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.
When damage to the motor nerves (those that control movement) occurs, symptoms include weakness, loss of reflexes, loss of muscle mass, cramping, and/or loss of dexterity.
Autonomic neuropathy, or damage to the nerves that control the function of organs and glands, may manifest with a wide variety of symptoms, including:
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