Peripheral Neuropathy

Many people with vitamin B12 deficiency develop some form of nerve problems.  The nerve damage experienced with B12 deficiency is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. In its most common form, peripheral neuropathy causes numbness and mild pain.  Typically the pain is described as a tingling, or even a mild burning sensation.  There are people who experience much more severe pain, but it is rare in B12 deficiency.  The numbness is referred to as a loss of sensation and has been compared to wearing a thin layer of clothing, like a glove or a sock.  You can feel something is touching your skin, it just feels like it is not direct contact.

There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy, pernicious anemia being one of them.  It can also be the result of injuries, infections, exposure to toxins and other metabolic issues.  It is also very common in diabetics.

If you catch the B12 deficiency early enough peripheral neuropathy can improve over time.  And it does take time, lots of it.  It can take up to a year to start to feel better, and much longer as your body continues to heal.  At this time there is no medicine specifically designed to treat peripheral neuropathy, but it has been discovered that medications designed for other conditions can be used to control or reduce the symptoms.  These are medications that are used to treat depression as well as epilepsy.  The only one I know by name is cymbalta, but there are many others.  If you are experiencing peripheral neuropathy symptoms check with your doctor to see if any of these types of medications would be right for you.

The peripheral nervous system consists of all the nerves in your body, except your brain and spinal cord.  Those nerves are part of your central nervous system.  Your peripheral nervous system includes sensory nerves that receive feeling – heat, pain, and touch.  It also consists of motor nerves that control your muscles as well as autonomic nerves that control blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and bladder control.

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