Saturday, April 28, 2012

When is cold not always cold?

heel-burning One of the undiagnosed systems associated with Kennedy’s Disease is sensory neuropathy. For years it was never listed or even associated with diagnosing Spinal Bulbar Muscular Atrophy (SBMA) or Kennedy’s Disease. I have commented in earlier articles about my neuropathy systems. This week, another person living with Kennedy’s Disease asked what my symptoms were like, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss the subject again.

The website Medical News Today had some good information on this subject.

What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is a collection of disorders that occurs when nerves of the peripheral nervous system (the part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord) are damaged. The condition is generally referred to as peripheral neuropathy, and it is most commonly due to damage to nerve axons. Neuropathy usually causes pain and numbness in the hands and feet. It can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic disorders, and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes.

Neuropathy can affect nerves that control muscle movement (motor nerves) and those that detect sensations such as coldness or pain (sensory nerves). In some cases - autonomic neuropathy - it can affect internal organs, such as the heart, blood vessels, bladder, or intestines.

Pain from peripheral neuropathy is often described as a tingling or burning sensation. There is no specific length of time that the pain exists, but symptoms often improve with time - especially if the neuropathy has an underlying condition that can be cured. In the United States, about 20 million people suffer from neuropathy.

What are the Symptoms for Sensory Nerve Damage Neuropathy?

Sensory nerve damage can cause various symptoms, such as an impaired sense of position, tingling, numbness, pinching and pain. Pain from this neuropathy is often described as burning, freezing, or electric-like, and many report a sensation of wearing an invisible "glove" or "stocking". These sensations tend to be worse at night, and can become painful and severe. Sensory nerve damage may lead to a lessening or absence of sensation, where nothing at all is felt.

How can Neuropathy be managed?

foot-massage There are several ways to manage neuropathy and prevent its symptoms. Good foot health is important, especially for diabetics. Patients should check feet for blisters, cuts, or calluses and avoid tight fitting shoes and socks. Doctors can recommend an exercise plan that will reduce neuropathy pain and control blood sugar levels. Patients should also quit smoking and eat healthful meals. Massages of hands and feet may also aid neuropathy management by stimulating nerves and temporarily relieving pain.

My Sensory Issues

My neuropathy is caused by sensory nerve damage and that is why I focused on it above. The three main areas/symptoms for me are:
  1. Feet and lower legs always feel cool or cold ... even if they are warm when touched. I normally cannot go to sleep when they feel cold.
  2. A burning sensation in the heels ... mainly in the left leg. Often the burning sensation is so intense I cannot got back to sleep.
  3. Hands and fingers not as sensitive to hot and cold. This becomes  an issue with freezing weather or when picking up hot items.

What works for me?

  1. Cold Sensation: If I wear calf length socks in bed, the feeling goes away quicker. An electric blanket also seems to help. Normally about an hour or two later I can remove the socks and be fine.
  2. Heel pain: Massaging the area seems to help immediately. Placing a pillow under the shin area to hold the heel off of the bed seems to help also.
  3. Hands and fingers: Massage, gloves, pot-holders, and awareness of the problem seems to help. I especially have to be careful when picking up something hot because I can blister before the pain hits.

Do you have any neuropathy issues?

Please let me know if you have any issues with neuropathy. What kind, where and what you do to help the issue?

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