The term Peripheral Neuropathy refers to a group of neurological disorders which affects the nerves lying outside the brain and spinal cord. Most commonly peripheral neuropathies results in symptoms of muscle weakness and sensory impairment. The pattern of symptoms will depend on the cause of the neuropathy but typically symptoms will be symmetrical affecting both arms or both legs.
They may be isolated to the distal extremities i.e. the hands and feet but can also affect muscles more proximally in the limbs. Most neuropathies progress at a slow pace with a gradual deterioration in function.
Weakness or sensory impairment in the arms will affect grip strength and dexterity. Tasks such as writing, doing buttons, opening envelopes or lifting the kettle can become a major challenge.Peripheral neuropathies will often affect the ankles and feet. Our feet play a vital role providing information regarding balance, postural alignment and body awareness. Any interference with sensation, flexibility or power in this region can affect balance control and walking. Often the person will complain of being unable to stand still, have difficulty stepping or report “catching” the foot when walking.