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How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?

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Peripheral neuropathy is the type of damage and restriction to the nervous system that occurs at the periphery of the body. Your body's heart and lungs work together with your central nervous system to power a very strong and sensitive set of nerves. This, of course, is centered in both the brain and the spinal cord, where most of the body's nerves end up receiving their signals. Unfortunately, improper diet, exercise, and blood sugar levels can break down this sophisticated nerve network. How bad can it get? Well, in a nutshell, you can lose feeling in your hands and feet, and possibly even experience paralysis. Some people have problems with their kidneys or experience side effects from chemotherapy.

However, the biggest factors are as mentioned above; diet and exercise. Some of the worst cases involve people who haven't been able to control their consumption of alcoholic beverages. It probably doesn't need to be said, but if you want to be healthy, don't drink alcohol to excess. As peripheral neuropathy worsens in the body, symptoms begin to multiply and worsen. At first, peripheral neuropathy starts out small; just those tingling sensations in the feet or possibly the hands. As always, symptoms can vary depending on what the underlying cause of the neuropathy is. Once it starts, it's imperative that you try to stop the process by eating well and exercising.

Some of the symptoms may include things like muscle weakness and cramps. Many of the people who experience peripheral neuropathy are older and sometimes not very active. This can make it harder to detect the onset of these problems. If you're in a group or population that has a high risk factor for these types of problems, it's important to stay vigilant and stay as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, there's also good potential for a “vicious cycle” to occur; a patient may have their mobility limited by things like muscle weakness and spasms, and that immobility may lead to more nerve damage. If things get worse, the twitching or weakness could lead to complete numbness or paralysis.

These sensations of “twitching” are not the only sensory factors of peripheral neuropathy. You may experience numbness or paresthesia (the sensation of pins and needles or tingling), as well as aching pain. People with advanced peripheral neuropathy sometimes have not only these sensations, but also feelings of burning pain. Sounds scary, and it is. In fact, there are cases where people have peripheral neuropathy so acute that they don't notice open sores or cuts on their feet. The havoc that unregulated blood sugar wreaks on the body is quite powerful. Many people with peripheral neuropathy have an inability to sweat properly, which leads to an intolerance to high levels of heat. Neuropathy and diabetes can wreak havoc on the bladder, which means the chances of infection go up. Not to mention the increased likelihood of having to wear Depends.

Blood pressure problems are no laughing matter.

Our sense of balance comes from things as diverse as the fluids in our ears and the sensation of the blood coursing through our veins, so when these factors are affected by blood pressure problems, our balance is affected as well. Often, people can become lightheaded or even faint because of complications from neuropathy. It doesn't just affect your balance; it can also affect your stomach in a myriad of ways. Your bowels and digestive system can be negatively affected by peripheral neuropathy. This can mean things like loose stools and diarrhea, or it can go the other way and cause constipation. The throat and digestive tract can swell or lose sensation. This can often cause problems with simply eating or swallowing food. Finally, peripheral neuropathy can get so bad that these symptoms can tax the body to a fatal level. Yes, you can have symptoms or situations from peripheral neuropathy that can be life threatening. If you feel like you have an irregular heartbeat, if you feel panicked or scared, or if you have trouble breathing, go to a doctor or hospital NOW. These types of events are not to be trifled with, and that is the real answer to “how bad can peripheral neuropathy get” – the answer is that it can endanger your life if you are not careful. So stay safe, eat healthy, stay fit, and follow your doctor's advice! Also, you might want to peruse the variety of neuropathy solutions we provide at our online store.

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May everyone have a good rest of the weekend. Hands cramping


Its a struggle just to get up everyday. Let alone walking and trying to do anytime.


Oh believed my I feel cramps has to be rubbed out.


I can’t feel at all. I try to explain that it would be like being paralyzed but can still move. But major PAIN.


I woke up 7 years ago. Had just been in hospital couldn’t find anything. I was from the base of my brain is where the nerve damage was done from a med I was on. Been to many Drs no help for it. So I feel all of your pain,burning, tingling and stabbing pain that just don’t stop. Absolutely no med will help with this. Its really hard coping with everything and no one really understands the pain.

Colin whitehead

I have developed chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy


Hi All
First I must express my thought are with you all, who suffer this terrible condition.
I discovered my diabetes by chance, being really had to go saline to water mu blood down due to my sugar levels.
That was when I was left with dreaded neuropathy.
Changed my life can’t dress, buttons, tie, shoes etc. constant pain, sharp stabbing pains that make you shout out, numbness, loss dexterity, depression 10 tablets a day and OD on Cocodomol to get sleep.


Hi, have you ever tried Doxepin? It helps me greatly. It takes a #7 -8 nerve pain down to a 4-5.


Long history of severe osteoarthritis and idiopathic sensory/motor peripheral neuropathy. The ‘ant-biting” effect is completely controlled by Baclofen, 10 mg – its a godsend, prescribed by my neurologist (it’s an MS drug, interestingly). Tried Gabapentin and amitriptyline but the side effects were beyond my ability to function. I force myself to get up and move, exercise (with rock and roll music), go outside and putter in the garden because the option is to get more sedentary and more debilitated. PT helped! This is a progressive disease, as we can see and so discouraging. I am so sorry to read the tough cases… will be praying for you! But do anything and everything that helps – even if each thing helps only a little. I am on prescription Diclofenac (NSAIDS), Baclofen and occasional Tramadol


Thank you for that bit of hope

Joni Steele

Last year’s colonoscopy revealed a polyp that I was told carries with it a high risk for cancer. I was also diagnosed with GERD. I’ve been experiencing bloating and constipation over the past couple of weeks. Two days ago, I started getting a tingling and burning in my legs and feet. I moisturized but the benefits were short lived. Massage is the only thing that brings relief. Does this sound like possible neuropathy to anyone?


[…] you know if your pain can be caused by peripheral neuropathy? An article titled “How Bad Can Peripheral Neuropathy Get?” lists some warning signs of neuropathic […]


I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in 2008. Went through testing to find the source . Was told that without knowing what’s causing it, they couldn’t treat it. My toes up to below my knees are numb. My toes will curl under my foot when walking which causes me to fall. Now have “foot drop” causing me to wear braces, which does help.
It is also in my hands which has caused them to slowly turn into claws. I have no strength in my arms. I have tremors in both hands as well as in my forehead, which is a new symptom. I hate the disability causing the loss of self.
I take gabapentin, DULoxetine, Mysoline, and propanol.
I’m scared on how far this will go????

Jean Pruitt

My neuropathy came from too much chemotherapy, I started chemo July 2019 finish taking chemo January 2020 I found out that the doctor was giving me too much unnecessary chemo so that’s what started the neuropathy started first in my toes now, It’s from my knees down in a small amount in both hands the pain is crazy I’ve taken Lyrica I’ve taken gabapentin four times a day the highest dose I can take did not help but I was having crazy thoughts and was afraid to stay home alone so I had to wing myself off of it I try to keep my mind off of feeling sorry for myself I’m a believe in Christ so I just try to surround myself with positive thoughts, And keeping busy and getting as much walking and exercise as I possibly can which is uncomfortable but I try anyway most of all trying to eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids mostly water. Am I going to beat this I say yes keeping a positive mind keeping my mind on the Lord eating healthy, And trying not to dwell too much on the Pain dwelling on it to me only makes it worse because the pain is crazy, So instead I like to say I’m just explaining not complaining, This is my way of handling it everyone have their own way of handling pain I wish everyone well keep your head up it .


The same has happened to me, too much chemotherapy. So far the neuropathy is just in my feet. The gabepentin works wonders for me! I totally agree with you, keeping the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ does wonders! The Lord has taken each one of us through this journey for a reason, not known to us. Maybe it is because one of us will help to find a cure! To relieve some tingling, try loosely wrapping your feet in a satin sheet. The silky feeling of the sheet seems to help me!


I am sooo trying to keep my head up


Proud of you ! Best , Best W 🙏

Dolly Helbert

My husband is suffering as well and has been for a year. They have no idea why and has seen many specialists. No issues with diabetes. No feeling up to mid thigh, barely any control of his hands anymore and numb up to his elbow. No ability to move his ankles or toes at all. Completely in a wheelchair and cannot stand. His body is attacking his nervous system for some reason and the docs at two major university hospitals have no idea why. His pain is gone because the feeling is gone. Neck pain started yesterday which is scary. I’m afraid it will not stop….Anyone else have anything like this???


Ask his doctor to do IMVG treatments. My brother has something similar to this, and IMVG treatments have helped. Research it.


Do you mean IVIG treatments?


Do you mean IMIV treatments?


So the progression of the neuropathy has stopped for my husband but the damage is done. He is a lung transplant receipient and they think Tacromolis (anti rejection med) was the culprit. He did many sessions of plasma exchange along with IVIG over many months. He has braces for his legs and has gained enough strength to walk . He still cannot do fine motor skill activities but he is much better and alive!


I’ve probably got the worst case here. After years of horrible pain and no meds, my feet are completely numb, all the way up to my knees. I almost ripped a toe off once and didn’t know it until I saw the pool of blood. It started happening in my hands a couple years ago. Burning, pain, numbness. I take Gabapentin 3 times a day so I can bear it. My diabetes is out of control. My doctor refused to refer me to an endocrinologist. It took a hand surgeon leading me to a neurologist who finally referred me to one. I just don’t want paralysis in my hands, which is what could happen. I have paralysis in my toes.
Is there anyone here that this has happened to?


Edit: not the worst case… I meant I probably have one of the worst cases here.


My husband is close to where you are at Suzanne. Just started on the Gabapentin (not because he did not need it before, but because of sheer stubbornness). Feet are totally numb. Lidocaine patches at night seem to help him sleep. Pain is incredible from what I can see. Numbness now starting in his arms and he is scared as am I. His diabetes, blood pressure and kidney function are almost all back to normal but it makes no difference. How do you cope day to day?

Danielle tyler

Tens unit.


How do you use your tens unit?


My PN started in 2000. Ideopathic bilateral with motor neuron involvement in my toes.
My feet lost sensation (but still hurt like hell without meds) over a decade ago. My hands started going numb once the feet were “gone”.
I’m diabetic now but wasn’t for most of the progression.
It is lonely and painful, both. And terrifying. What will another two decades do to me? I’m only 58.
I take ibuprofen, oxycarbazapine, and duloxatine. Being dependent on meds is horrid.


Gabepentin has worked wonders for me! Ask your doctor for a script for it. Saved my life!


Find the cause. If diabetes get glucose levels under control.

Bill Whorton

I am asking this question for my friend Frank. He has had neuropathy for years that has progressed from feet to past his waist. His hands are beginning to hurt now and he is asking just how far this will progress and what the future will look like for him?


It will become much worse. He must find the real cause of the neuropathy and try to get it controlled.

anne boxall

wow I am glad I read all comments I will stop complaining I have extreme pain in my right foot but it is intermittant I have not spoken to my GP about it .He says I have Peripheral Neuropathy because my sugar levels are too high. So I need to excercise more therefore I will try. Boy it is boring Thanks for letting me read your comments


I have had neuropathy for a few years now and I’m on gabpentin doesn’t help much. I have pain in both legs n feet, and has started in left arm. Sometimes my legs hurt so bad i just want to cut them off.

Rebkah medina

Know the feeling. I failed all Ms testing and have poly. So sick of legs and arms. Draw me some new ones.

Rebkah medina

I failed all Ms testing. I have poly. I get sick of my legs and arms would love to chop off as well. Lyrics didn’t work so pain killers and anti inflammatorys. Oh whatever fun. Not.


I’m at my wits end I was finally diagnosed with Motor Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy in 2012 but I can barely walk have to go out in a Wheelchair my hands are going numb now and keep dropping things no meds help only leave me a Zombie so I take none my mind is there but have no Body.


Sounds like me with the legs


Hi All
New to this diagnosis started with central finger on left hand six months on now in both hands no feeling to thumbs or fingers cannot detect movement in fingers unless,looking at them.
Scarey Ben told could lose total function of hands as worded case scenario.
I wish you all well hope thing improve for you


It started in my right big toe. Now it’s both feet all the time with occasional leg involvement. Even my lips and tongue tingle. A few times, while in bed, it’s my whole body! My limbs feel really heavy..almost like I can’t move. I can’t get a neurologist appointment for 3 months. I’m in nursing school & having great difficultly with fatigue. I have oxycodone & just got started on Gabapentin. The gaba does help, but I’ve heard horror stories about getting addicted & trying to get off of it. I’m about ready to end it all.


D please try to stay with us all. I am on Gabapentin have been for 8 months. I may be slightly dependent on them but have managed to keep mg dosage low. I would be.more concerned about the oxycodone as far as addiction goes and I sincerely love the high if i take enough of them but they aren’t much help with the neuropathy. Good luck!!!!! Please take care!!

Linda Reed

Try Leg Cramps by Hyland’s . And you may need magnesium and chlorophyll 100mg buy it from GNC. Good luck. I roller skate since age 11 on the rink only. I would get mucsule spam’s in my feet so badly after skating I could walk. Try these things daily.


I get foot spasms so bad I want to fucking kill myself Lyrics worked but my sorry ass monkey for a doctor cut me cold turkey.


I hear ya. I think about what my….leaving…would affect things. Not much, actually. I only have a husband, no kids or other family to speak of, & few friends. My husband is VERY resilient. I wouldn’t be missed. For now, I have hope because I have a Dr appointment in 3 months.


Use capful of apple cider vinegar and an ounce of water, cramp will cease

Dana marie Lopez

I’ve been a uncontrolled diabetic for 43 years. Just about two years ago I bought a TENS unit for my diabetic neuropathy. It worked so well I use it on all of my pained body parts. It’s a good send. The pain is gone and I am able to get to sleep at night . I hear ya Whitney. Try the teens. It’s the best.


How did you use it?


Welcome to the insanity of real modern medicine.

Elizabeth M Thompson

I have idiopathic poly neuropathy. Trigemial neuralgia, painful burning legs, hands which seem to drop a lot of things most days,, scalp which feels as if I have ants crawling onn it, a sensitifity to light and skin which is sensitive to sunlight. Probably more that hasn’t occurred to me.
I have a walking cane and after trying to avoid it for a long time, I’m getting a mobility scooter.
This condition is lonely and largley ingnored by the medical research areas in Australia. Why, when it appears to be quite common. Is it not pathetic enough because it cant be seen?


I agree Everyone says ask yr Dr I’ve been asking for 45 yrs & not many answers Act like they don’t know what I’m talking about but the internet seems to know Why don’t they ? Make you feel “ crazy , , shamed Don’t & will never understand , maybe to keep the money comeing in ? Who knows So many think they can speak down to you If they would just tell you so you could do something about it Pretty hard when you don’t know what you have Don’t want to be disalusioned & frustrated but it’s hard not to be Lnow Drs are human too but 45yrs later & more & more neurological problems, starting to wonder! Best wishes , hope you can find a Dr that actually cares ! Hang in there , always No one but others like us know how very stong you’ve had to be !!

Donald Hurley

Can’t feel feet but I can sure feel the cramp in left bottom of left foot. Very painful.

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