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Neuropathy Question
Jan 9, 2001

I have a question about neuropathy. About 3 or 4 months ago, I had a slight loss of sensation on the outside edge of my right big toe, at the same time I was experiencing a severe lower back strain. I figured they were related. I have a history of both upper and lower back strains. The back cleared up, and after a few weeks, I stopped noticing the toe problem, but I don't know if it really went away, or I just didn't notice it anymore. Then, 3 days ago, I noticed some symptoms that seem to have come out of the blue. I have a burning/tingling sensation on the soles of both feet and occasionally my ankles and achilles area. It comes and goes throughout the day, and seems to be worse in the evening. It also seems to be worse when I'm sitting. I tend to cross my feet a lot when I sit, and I notice that they fall asleep easier now when I do that. Also starting that same day, I noticed occasional tingling or pricking feelings in my toes, the top of my feet, the back of my thighs,up high by my butt,the front of my shins, my forearms and upper arms and my back, behind my shoulders. They are spilt second feelings that happen here and there during the day. I've noticed that if I rest my elbows on a desk or table, or the arms of a chair, my hands fall asleep very easily,especially the last 2 fingers and outside edge, and I've noticed occasional burning and tingling in my hands or fingers. The back of my right hand seems less sensitive to touch than it used to be. My left hand is fine. The things I notice most are the burning feet and ankles, the upper back of my thighs being more sensitive to touch and my hands bothering me with pressure on my elbow, or if my elbow is bent for too long. It seems to have started suddenly, and now I'm always focused on noticing it. It isn't overly painful, more just annoying. I am 34, and probably 75 pounds overweight with the weight being all in my torso, which I know puts a lot of stress on my back. There is no history of diabetes in my family. I have no other health problems. Does this seem likely to be HIV related?? If it is, the only time I could have been exposed would have been in a period of 11 to 14 years ago. What else could it be from? Will it get worse?

Response from Dr. Feinberg

The only way your problem could be HIV-related is if you have HIV, and have had it for quite a while. Many things can cause paresthesias (numbness and tingling), and if you are HIV- then you need to see a physician to have this sorted out. It is possible for back problems to cause neurologic symptoms in the feet, but these are not typically symmetrical. It isn't possible for me to tell you whether this will get worse without knowing what caused it. Good luck!


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