Q: I have sporadic numbness, tingling, and pain on the outer thigh… that… have started to migrate to my feet. Just like when your foot falls asleep. MRIs are normal and neurologist thinks it is all in my head. Any information would be appreciated. - Tracy
A: Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is a general term that refers to disorder of the structure and function of peripheral motor, sensory and autonomic nerves. It is a common occurrence and affects approximately 20 million people in the United States. Neuropathy typically results in numbness, tingling and pain that can occur episodically or continuously, normally in the extremities.
PN has many causes including inflammation, nerve compression or laceration, exposure to toxins, nutritional deficiencies and/or disease. Conditions that are most associated with peripheral nerve pain include: alcoholism, herpes zoster (shingles), diabetes mellitus, medication reaction, nutritional deficiency (vitamin B1, B6 and B12), fibromyalgia or autoimmune disorders. However, it is common that there can be no known cause of the nerve pain, and in that case it is termed “idiopathic.”
If the pain has been assessed by a neurologist and there is no blatant nerve damage it can often be frustrating yet good news (because there is no injury to the nerves).
• It is often important to rule out infections like herpes zoster (shingles) and HIV.
• Because heavy metals in the body can also cause this kind of pain, getting tested for heavy metals can often provide important information regarding the cause of the symptoms.
• As well, making sure that there are no nutritional deficiencies or autoimmune disorders can help to diagnose the problem.
Treating the pain is often difficult, and about 40% of people achieve relief from medications. If the pain is caused by an infection, diabetes, or nutritional deficiency then medication or supplemental vitamins are indicated for treatment. Supplementing with alpha lipoic acid and high doses of vitamin B1 have also shown to improve some symptoms of nerve pain.
- Dr. Kristi Wrightson, ND, MS, RD
Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.