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Symptoms

Symptoms vary according to the type of peripheral neuropathy and may develop quickly or slowly.

The main types of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • sensory neuropathy – damage to the nerves that carry messages of touch, temperature, pain and other sensations to the brain
  • motor neuropathy – damage to the nerves that control movement
  • autonomic neuropathy – damage to the nerves that control involuntary bodily processes, such as digestion, bladder function and control of blood pressure
  • mononeuropathy – damage to a single nerve outside of the central nervous system

In many cases, someone with peripheral neuropathy may have more than one of these types of peripheral neuropathy at the same time.

A combination of sensory and motor neuropathy is particularly common (sensorimotor polyneuropathy).

Sensory neuropathy

Symptoms of sensory neuropathy can include:

  • pins and needles in the affected body part
  • numbness and less ability to feel pain or changes in temperature, particularly in your feet
  • a burning or sharp pain, usually in the feet
  • feeling pain from something that should not be painful at all, such as a very light touch
  • loss of balance or co-ordination caused by less ability to tell the position of the feet or hands

Motor neuropathy

Symptoms of motor neuropathy can include:

  • twitching and muscle cramps
  • muscle weakness or paralysis affecting one or more muscles
  • thinning (wasting) of muscles
  • difficulty lifting up the front part of your foot and toes, particularly noticeable when walking (foot drop)

Autonomic neuropathy

Symptoms of autonomic neuropathy can include:

Mononeuropathy

Depending on the specific nerve affected, symptoms of mononeuropathy can include:

  • altered sensation or weakness in the fingers
  • double vision or other problems with focusing your eyes, sometimes with eye pain
  • weakness of one side of your face (Bell's palsy)
  • foot or shin pain, weakness or altered sensation

The most common type of mononeuropathy is carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a small tunnel in your wrist.

In carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve becomes compressed where it passes through this tunnel, which may cause tingling, pain or numbness in the fingers.