Signs and Symptoms of Nerve Damage

5 minutes read

You might be unaware that some minor discomforts like tingling on the feet, tingly hands, pins and needles or burning sensations—which are often ignored—could in fact be signs of nerve damage or Neuropathy. The good news is that the symptoms of nerve damage are usually manageable, but it’s important to be aware of the warning signs so you can get an early diagnosis and treatment. Read on to learn more. ¹ ²

In this article:
Signs and Symptoms of Nerve Damage

What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Damage?2 3

Here are some of the main signs and symptoms of each type of nerve damage:

Sensory Nerve Damage Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of nerve damage are caused by impairment of the sensory nerves. They include:

  • Tingling. A feeling of prickliness or ‘pins and needles’ often starts in the feet or hands and may spread upwards to the legs and arms.

  • Numbness. Some people describe a feeling like wearing an invisible sock or glove.

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch. It may feel painful to touch things, even if you only brush up against them gently.

  • Loss of balance and coordination. This happens when sensory nerve damage makes you less aware of the position of your hands or feet.

  • Burning sensations. A burning feeling just under the skin can be a symptom of nerve damage.

  • Pain due to nerve damage in hands and feet. Stabbing, shooting or throbbing pains with no obvious cause.

Motor Nerve Damage Symptoms4 5

Possible symptoms of motor nerve damage include the following:

  • Muscle weakness. Reduced muscle tension can make it harder to grip things tightly, or you might just notice things slipping out of your hands more frequently.

  • Cramps, muscle twitching or spasms.

  • Reduced mobility. Motor nerve damage can cause difficulty walking or moving the limbs. A characteristic symptom is difficulty lifting the front part of the foot and the toes when taking a step (also known as ‘foot drop’).

  • Muscle atrophy. With time, motor nerve damage can lead to thinning and wasting of muscles.

  • Paralysis. Severe nerve damage can result in the loss of ability to move certain muscles.

Autonomic Nerve Damage Symptoms5 6 7

The following could be signs of autonomic nerve damage:

  • Low blood pressure

  • Excessive sweating or an inability to sweat

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Difficulty peeing

  • Incontinence

What Causes Nerve Damage Symptoms?3 7 8

Nerves have a crucial role in keeping you healthy and safe by sending and receiving information between your brain and the rest of your body. If the nerve fibers are damaged, these signals can be disrupted, and symptoms can occur.

There are many possible causes of nerve damage, and some groups of people (e.g. diabetics, people on special diets) are at a greater risk.

Some of the most common causes of nerve damage include:

  • Complications from diabetes

  • Low levels of B vitamins and other vitamins

  • Certain medications or medical treatments

  • Special diets that are low in essential B vitamins and other nutrients

  • Some infections, including shingles, Lyme disease and HIV

  • Underactive thyroid gland

  • Excessive alcohol use

  • Physical injuries.

Signs of Nerve Damage You Could Miss7

There are some indirect signs of nerve damage that you could miss, especially in the early stages. Here are some examples:

  • Falls. A loss of balance or coordination could make you unsteady on your feet. Weak muscles can also lead to trips and stumble. If you find that missteps or falls are becoming more frequent, nerve damage might be a factor.

  • Injuries or burns. सुन्नता (numbness) or reduced sensitivity to touch and temperature could lead to more injuries and burns than usual. Don’t just put it down to carelessness. Those little accidents could be a warning sign of nerve damage.

  • Dropping things. Do objects just seem to slip out of your hands lately? It might be more than just clumsiness. Muscle weakness due to nerve damage could be the real cause of those broken cups and vases.

Is it Nerve Damage or Something Else? 2

Many symptoms of nerve damage are associated with other conditions as well, so it’s not always clear whether they’re the result of neuropathy or something else. This is why it’s important to see your doctor, who can investigate what’s really behind your symptoms. Only then will it be possible to find the treatment or other steps—such as lifestyle or dietary changes —best suited to your needs. You may be advised to take a vitamin B complex such as Neurobion Forte.

In Short

Now you know that symptoms like numbness, tingling and burning sensation could be signs of nerve damage. They aren’t always easy to spot and can sometimes be confused with other conditions, or even just dismissed as a ‘normal’ part of getting older—but it’s important to have any potential symptoms checked out as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is the key to protecting and caring for your nerves.

Article Sources

¹ International Association for the Study of Pain (2014). Epidemiology of Neuropathic Pain: How Common is Neuropathic Pain, and What Is Its Impact?

² Calderón‐Ospina, C. A., & Nava‐Mesa, M. O. (2020). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 26(1), 5-13.

³ Head, K. A. (2006). Peripheral neuropathy: pathogenic mechanisms and alternative therapies. Alternative medicine review, 11(4).

⁴ Leishear, K., Boudreau, R. M., Studenski, S. A., Ferrucci, L., Rosano, C., De Rekeneire, N., ... & Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. (2012). Relationship between vitamin B 12 and sensory and motor peripheral nerve function in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 60(6), 1057-1063.

⁵ Carvalho, C. R., Oliveira, J. M., & Reis, R. L. (2019). Modern trends for peripheral nerve repair and regeneration: beyond the hollow nerve guidance conduit. Frontiers in bioengineering and biotechnology, 337.

⁶ Vinik, A. I. (2002). Neuropathy: New Concepts in Evaluation and Treatment.(Featured CME Topic: Diabetes Mellitus). Southern medical journal, 95(1), 21-24.

⁷ Vinik, A. I., Maser, R. E., Mitchell, B. D., & Freeman, R. (2003). Diabetic autonomic neuropathy. Diabetes care, 26(5), 1553-1579.

⁸ Chung, T., Prasad, K., & Lloyd, T. E. (2014). Peripheral neuropathy: clinical and electrophysiological considerations. Neuroimaging Clinics, 24(1), 49-65.

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