The number of people experiencing foot pain, numbness and tingling has increased and could indicate small fiber neuropathy
According to a new study, the number of people experiencing numbness, tingling and pain in their feet with no known cause has been increasing over the last two decades.
The condition is known as small fiber neuropathy and presents different symptoms to large fiber neuropathy.
Researchers examined the records for every patient diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy in Olmsted County and adjacent counties during a 20-year period. They then compared the 94 people with 282 people of similar age and sex who did not have neuropathy.
The study found that the condition occurred in 13.3 per 100,000 people and 36% developed large fiber neuropathy during the study – an average 5 years after they developed the small fiber version.
“This increase could be due in part to greater awareness,” said study author Christopher J. Klein, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “Another possibility is that increasing levels of overweight and obesity in our area could be a factor in the higher rates of small fiber neuropathy. Higher body mass index, or BMI, is a risk factor for diabetes and high triglycerides, which may also lead to neuropathy.”
Study participants with neuropathy had an average BMI of 30.4, compared to 28.5 for the people who did not.
Further research found that:
- 50% of the people with neuropathy have diabetes;
- 86% have insomnia;
- 46% more likely to have heart attacks;
“Based on these findings, people with small fiber neuropathy should be screened for heart problems and their blood glucose should be monitored for signs of diabetes,” Klein added.
“The good news is that most people with idiopathic neuropathy do not develop major impairments or disability, but they did have many other conditions and an increased risk of heart attack, so the development of treatments and prevention methods is crucial.”
The full study has been published in the American Academy of Neurology.