Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of the motor, sensory, and autonomic nerves.

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can include numbness, tingling, pain, and oversensitivity to touch. Strange altered sensations may be present, like pins-and-needles sensations or feeling like ants are crawling on their skin. People have even described these symptoms like walking on rocks, having something wrapped around their feet, or like a sock bunched under their toes — even though they aren’t wearing socks. Other people develop sensitivity to touch stimuli so sensitive to the point where normal sensations, such as a blanket touching a foot, become painful.

Peripheral neuropathy can also present with a loss of sensation, too. Some people don’t notice any symptoms at all; in fact, these patients do not realize a gradual loss of sensation in their feet has taken place. The loss was so gradual, it seemed normal until patients begin to lose balance or develop a painless sore on their foot that normally would be painful.

Peripheral neuropathy can lead to loss of balance, hammer toes, weakness in the legs and low back, and foot deformity. The condition typically worsens with age.

Diagnosis and treatment protocols are imperative to patients with peripheral neuropathy. Loss of sensation in the feet and changes in balance perception can put a person at higher risk of injury, such as slips and falls.