Do you feel like you’ve lost strength and balance since you were diagnosed with neuropathy? Well, you’re not alone.
I recently spoke to a follower on our Facebook page and he says the pain is bad, sure, but not being able to lift small objects is the worst part of having neuropathy. I found that curious…
Not being able to lift a can of soda is worse than the shooting pain in your hands and feet?
I really thought about it: if you’ve been living your whole life without pain, you can adjust to it by buying specialized socks, blankets, and dietary supplements. If you’ve been lifting a can to drink soda for basically your entire life and suddenly you just can’t, of course, it is going to be horrible! I asked further questions and this is how bad it was:
- he had a hard time lifting a can of soda sometimes.
- he found it difficult to vacuum around the house.
- he could no longer mow his lawn.
- he couldn’t hold his granddaughter without someone to prop up his arms underneath.
He was really upset. It left an impression on me — how terrible to not be able to hold your granddaughter without help, so I decided to write this blog about how neuropathy affects your balance and strength. I hope this article helps someone suffering from severe loss of strength and balance.
Motor, Sensory, and Autonomic Nerves
There are three major types of nerves in the peripheral nervous system: motor, sensory, and autonomic nerves.
Your motor nerves are responsible for sending messages from your brain to the muscles in your body. So, when this gentleman was discussing the enormous loss of strength and the ability to hold light objects, he was suffering from neuropathy that affected his motor nerves. I asked him about this, and sure enough, 5 years earlier his doctor told him that was the culprit.
Your sensory nerves do the opposite by sending messages from your body to your brain. That sharp pain felt by most neuropathy sufferers is often caused by neuropathy that greatly affects the sensory nerves.
Your autonomic nerves control your “automatic” bodily functions — digestion, sweating, blood pressure, and heart rate. This is particularly scary because these nerves if damaged, can make a person’s heart beat faster or slower.
The #1 Way
The number 1 way neuropathy affects your strength is by damaging your motor nerves. Damage to your motor nerves may cause considerable strength loss due to:
- lack of exercise to maintain and build upon your strength base
- your nerves sending messages to your brain that you can’t lift the object or it is too heavy
- muscle atrophy due to lack of use
- unhealthy diet
Before we talk about how neuropathy affects your balance, I want to mention the terms that fall under the broad umbrella of balance:
- A sense of motion or spinning (vertigo)
- Feeling a floating sensation
These symptoms are commonly associated with balance issues.
The number 1 way neuropathy affects your balance is by damaging any of the three major peripheral nerves.
If your motor nerves are damaged in your legs, you are eventually going to have some loss of strength in your legs. This can be a direct cause of difficulty in walking.
If your sensory nerves are damaged in your legs, you may have a sudden shooting pain that limits your ability to stand upright, affecting your balance.
If your autonomic nerves are affected in your legs, you risk having an autonomic response that affects your legs while standing or walking. This is a sure-fire way to lose your balance!
There are many ways that neuropathy can greatly affect your balance, but damage to the nerves in your legs greatly increases the likelihood of losing your balance and strength.