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New Research Suggests That Feeling Pins And Needles May Be A Sign Of A Nerve Damage Condition

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Most of us have felt “pins and needles” after sitting in a cramped or awkward position for too long. But, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, this painful symptom may also be a sign of neuropathy.

Patients suffering from neuropathy essentially have nerve damage that causes pain and numbness in the extremities. Even though this may not seem very serious, the researchers caution that neuropathy can result in infections, falls, and, in severe cases, amputations.

This latest study discovered that neuropathy is not only very common but also frequently undiagnosed. In fact, three in four people examined during this research tested positive for neuropathy.

Additionally, many patients with this nerve damage condition might not feel the typical prickling sensation in their hands or feet. This can make diagnosis even more challenging.

“More than one-third of people with neuropathy experience sharp, prickling or shock-like pain, which increases their rates of depression and decreases quality of life,” explained Melissa A. Elafros, one of the study’s authors.

“People with neuropathy also have an increased risk of earlier death, even when you take into account other conditions they have, so identifying and treating people with or at risk for neuropathy is essential.”

The study involved 169 individuals from an outpatient internal medicine clinic in Michigan. The participants were 58 years old, on average, and two-thirds of the participants were Black.

Half of the participants had diabetes, a condition known to cause neuropathy. Two-thirds of the participants also had metabolic syndrome, characterized by excess belly fat and at least two of the following conditions: high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, high blood sugar, and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as “good” cholesterol.

Each participant was tested for distal symmetric polyneuropathy, and the researchers discovered that an alarming 73% had some degree of nerve damage. Even more concerning, three out of four patients who tested positive for neuropathy had never been previously diagnosed with the condition.

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