Neuropathy can be caused by a number of different things. Certain medical conditions, injuries, and excessive alcohol consumption can all cause the nerve damage behind neuropathy. But what about stress and anxiety? Can stress actually cause neuropathy? If so, how, and what can be done to treat it?
While anxiety and stress can play into neuropathy, they can’t actually damage your nerves. This means that stress isn’t a root cause of neuropathy.
Even if you’re incredibly stressed every day for months, that by itself won’t cause damage to your nerves. However, that doesn’t mean stress won’t play a part in the symptoms of your neuropathy.
Anxiety and stress do affect the body in many different ways. A few of the most obvious symptoms of stress include numbness, burning, tingling, and pain or discomfort when moving. These symptoms are very similar to what you might feel with neuropathy. That’s why it’s very easy to think you have neuropathy when you actually don’t.
If you assume that’s what you’re dealing with and never confirm it with your doctor, you won’t be able to address the actual problem (your stress).
Studies have also provided evidence that anxiety and nerve firings are related. Specifically, researchers believe that high anxiety may cause nerve firing to occur more often. This can make you feel tingling, burning, and other sensations that are also associated with nerve damage and neuropathy.
Anxiety may also cause muscles to cramp up, which can also be related to nerve damage.
Anxiety can make you hyperventilate. When you do, it makes the blood vessels in your body constrict. When this happens, it reduces the amount of blood flow to your lower legs and arms. That, in turn, can cause burning, tingling, and other sensations similar to what you would experience with neuropathy.
When you’re dealing with anxiety and believe you may have peripheral neuropathy, you may be more aware of your body. You’re always checking for signs of neuropathy, and every odd muscle twinge or odd sensation is noticeable.
This over-awareness can actually make it more difficult to move naturally. Because you're always taking stock of your body, you'll notice more oddities.
When you're 'too aware' you also pay much more attention to things you’d normally do without thinking- such as walking or reaching out for something. This can make those movements more difficult or more awkward. And in turn will spike your anxiety levels because you think the movement feels off.
In a nutshell, the worse your anxiety gets, the more you’ll experience symptoms similar to neuropathy.
If you believe you have neuropathy, don’t try to treat it on your own. Instead, you need to get a diagnosis. There are several conclusive methods that will tell you if you truly do have neuropathy or if the symptoms you’re feeling are caused by something like anxiety.
An electromyograph uses electric stimulation that will show if there’s something affecting the nerves. If you haven’t had any injuries that could have caused nerve damage, this test can be used to determine if there’s another medical condition affecting your body that you don’t know about.
A CT or MRI can also be used to look for physical damage. These scans can determine if you're experiencing any nerve damage.
If you believe you’re dealing with neuropathy, but aren’t sure what’s causing it, contact Advanced Integrated Medical today! We will determine if you have neuropathy, the cause of your neuropathy and help you treat it immediately. CLICK HERE to request an appointment today!
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