If you have numbness or pain in your hands and feet and don't know why, you may have peripheral neuropathy. But if you're like most Americans, you've probably never heard of this often debilitating disease. A new national survey reveals that, when asked, only 7 percent of adults said they knew about peripheral neuropathy.
This severe lack of awareness about an illness that affects some 20 million Americans was the most significant finding of the survey conducted by Roper Starch for The Neuropathy Association, which was formed three years ago to provide support and education to people suffering from the disease.
Sometimes called the secret disease, peripheral neuropathy is not easily detectable. Even those who have the disease may not be aware of its presence, and their doctors may not recognize it either.
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of this disease. But the causes are diverse and in many cases unknown. peripheral neuropathy has been associated with toxins; autoimmunity, a side effect of medication; vitamin deficiency; and some types of cancer, among other causes.
Among diabetics surveyed, only 22 percent said they were familiar with it, even though neuropathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Many of the respondents said they thought peripheral neuropathy was some kind of visual problem, and only a few actually knew what it was.
Nearly 8 percent of the respondents without diabetes said they experienced symptoms suggestive of neuropathy, such as numbness, weakness or pain in the hands or feet, lasting more than six months. Among diabetics, 33 percent said they experienced such symptoms.
"Since there are some 200 million adults in the United States, 10 percent of whom have diabetes, this translates to about 22 million people with neuropathy," association officials said. "This is a much higher number than previously suspected."
Those who reported symptoms of neuropathy frequently did not recognize them as such; 34 percent said they did not know what caused the symptoms, and others mentioned a wide variety of reasons such as "the way I slept on my arm or foot," "exposure to cold or frostbite," "injury or accident" or "an illness."
In contrast to this glaring lack of understanding of the disease, 78 percent of those with peripheral neuropathy said it had a substantial impact on their ability to enjoy a normal life, and 61 percent said it affected their ability to do their job.
Every time i hear neuropathy, it is assiated with diabeties. But as far as i know i don't have it. I was tested a few years ago while i had the sore burning feet. Also i have been taking that ALA for a while now and i have seen any change. It still hurts very much.
This message was edited on Jul-21-05 at 11:38 PM (EST)
Iamd7thson, diabetes can develop gradually, as well as fairly speedily, and if it's been a few years since you were tested, and you are now having this problem with your feet, then I would durn sure get tested again right now. Good luck, and have you tried walking or massaging the feet? Wearing really comfortable shoes (feet spread out as we get older and/or heavier) and padded socks (which alone would necessitate larger shoes.) My feet hurting and having cold, freezing toes were one sign that I had diabetes, but it wasn't until a few years later that I was diagnosed. I even asked my doctor about it once, and he just didn't have any idea why my feet would feel so cold. A few years later, it was leg cramps so bad that I couldn't sit still, and then it was just a matter of days before I was diagnosed, very sick, with blood sugar 350. Please insist on more testing.
Thank you nan for your input, but as i stated my feet started hurting before i was tested for diabeties, and was found to not have it a few years later. And as far as the walking, that makes my feet worse, but the rubbing feels good while i'm doing it, but doesn't help in the long run. Walt
Connie Schaefer I have neuropathy of the feet. My left foot is always numb. I also have it in my arms and I get lots of tingling in my arms and feet that I can't seem to control. Any ideas. My doc refuses to give me any meds for this. I am in the process of changing physicians because she has taken away my pain meds and says I don't need them.
Check out the web site www.benfotiamine.net I had neuropathy in my right foot and then it spread to my left foot. I had the pins and needles and a hot feeling as well. I researched benfotiamine. I tried the multi-support formula and in about 3 days I could tell the difference. I have been on it for about six months and no more pins and needles. It worked great. If I stop taking it I can tell the differenc.