Are you suffering from tingling, aching, burning or numbness in your feet or hands?  Well, there is a chance that you could be suffering from Small Fiber Neuropathy.  Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that has been estimated to affect as many as 15-20 million American adults!  Most of these people suffer from a common variant called Small Fiber Peripheral Neuropathy.  This disorder may be associated with various diseases (diabetes, B12 deficiency, toxin exposure) or it may occur alone.

According to Wikipedia, small fiber peripheral neuropathy is a type of peripheral neuropathy that occurs from damage to the small unmyelinated peripheral nerve fibers.  These fibers, categorized as C fibers, are present in skin, peripheral nerves, and organs.  The symptoms of this condition are typically highly variable, and depend on the person and the degree of the damaged nerve fibers.  Common complaints are: parasthesias, dysesthesias, and insensitivity to pain. 

  • Parasthesias are abnormal sensations, such as: numbness, old, burning, prickling, pins and needles, and other symptoms. 
  • Dysethesias are unpleasant sensations, either evoked or spontaneous.  Some examples are simple things in one’s environment bothering them- like a light breeze, the feeling of clothes, or even a soft touch can sometimes cause the sufferer pain! 
  • Insensitivity to pain is another complaint. This sounds good in a way- who wants to feel pain?!!  However, it’s rather dangerous, as one may be bleeding or have a skin injury without even knowing it. People suffering from this condition typically feel the majority of the symptoms’ severity in their feet!

When any of these symptoms exist, it is time to visit your podiatrist. When someone comes into the office of Dr. James Ricketti and Dr. Stephen Skokan, they are in good hands.  The diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy is done through a simple skin biopsy for the measurement of epidermal nerve fiber density.  If you are suffering from these strange sensations and don’t know what could be wrong, don’t wait, call your podiatrist!  You could, in fact be suffering from small fiber neuropathy, and treatment and relief may be just a small skin biopsy away! 

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