Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by PCBs. Numbness, tingling hands, and tingling feet may result.
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Peripheral Neuropathy, tingling feet, tingling hands, tingling in feet, tingling in hands, foot hands tingling, hands numbness tingling, tingling in arms hands, numbness tingling in foot hands, numb hands, foot hands numb, numb foot, foot numb tingling, pins and needles, needle pin sensation, nerve damage, nervous system damage, numb, numbness, leg numbness
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PCBs and Peripheral Neuropathy

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Introduction
As early as 1969 or earlier, scientific journals printed articles describing well-known PCB damage to the peripheral nervous system. Today, this damage is considered a standard symptom of PCB poisoning. The 36 studies listed in this report examine and confirm the link between PCBs and this nervous system disorder.

Unfortunately, because this condition is fairly common and has many causes, it is difficult to distinguish a PCB-caused neuropathy from other causes, unless the person has proof of a significant PCB exposure. It may be that some people are more sensitive or vulnerable to PCB neuropathy effects, such as someone already suffering from alcoholism.   In fact, research has shown that PCB exposure may contribute directly to the development of diabetes and thyroid disorders, which are both also linked to peripheral neuropathy.
 

Two of the studies conclude that victims of PCB-caused neuropathy donít necessarily show a clear dose/response relationship between PCB levels in the blood and the disease. Once the neuropathy is initiated, the blood PCB levels measured later donít seem linked to the conditionís severity.

During cleanup of the Fox River it is extremely important to limit public and worker contact with the PCB-contaminated sediments and water, to prevent such health problems.

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What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

The peripheral nervous system is used by the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, including the nerves of the head and the nerves supplying the internal organs, muscles, skin, and other areas. Peripheral neuropathy (also called peripheral neuritis) is a problem with the functioning of these nerves outside of the spinal cord and brain. Sometimes this involves the breakdown of the nerve endings (axons) which send sensations to the brain. Sometimes, the damage affects the coating of nerve fibers (myelin), interfering with the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

Peripheral neuropathy can be a mild nuisance, or it can be disabling.

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Forms and Symptoms 

Motor Neuropathy --- Weakness in the arms or legs. Difficulty walking or running. "Heaviness" which requires tremendous effort just to climb stairs. Stumbling or tiring easily. Muscle cramps. Difficulties with carrying a load of groceries, opening jars, turning door knobs, or combing hair. Repeatedly dropping things. Muscle atrophy. Reflex loss.  Loss of nerve function can cause structural changes in muscle, bone, skin, hair, nails, and body organs.

Sensory Neuropathy --- Spontaneous sensations, called paresthesias. Numbness, tingling, pins and needles, prickling, burning, cold, pinching, sharp deep stabs, and electric shocks or buzzing. Usually worse at night, often painful and severe. Unpleasant abnormal sensations brought on by touching or other stimuli are called dysesthesias. Some patients are unable to work, or walk, or sleep; some can hardly wear clothes, because contact with the skin feels like unbearable burning. On the other hand, some patients develop anesthesia, a lack of sensation, leading to injuries, cuts and burns due to the lack of normal warning sensations. This lack of sensation leads to a loss of a sense of position and disconnection from the feet, which leads to uncoordinated and unsteady walking. Some patients develop the "Glove and Stocking Sensation," the illusion that theyíre wearing socks or gloves even when their feet and hands are bare.

Autonomic Nerve Damage --- The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary or semi-voluntary functions, such as control of internal organs. Damage could result in symptoms such as blurred vision, decreased ability to sweat (anhidrosis), decreased ability to regulate body temperature, disturbances of bladder function, dizziness or fainting associated with a fall in blood pressure when standing up (orthostatic hypotension), constipation, diarrhea, nausea after meals, abdominal bloating, sexual dysfunction (impotence), and thinning of the skin, with easy bruisability and poor healing.

peripheral neuropathy, tingling feet, tingling hands, tingling in feet, tingling in hands, foot hands tingling, hands numbness tingling, tingling in arms hands, numbness tingling in foot hands, numb hands, foot hands numb, numb foot, foot numb tingling, pins and needles, needle pin sensation, nerve damage, nervous system damage, numb, numbness, leg numbness
Diagnosis

To diagnose peripheral neuropathy requires a neurologic exam for muscle weakness, reflex loss, autonomic dysfunction, and sensory deficits (touch, pain, temperature, position, and vibration). A nerve conduction study can confirm neuropathy and distinguish between damage to axons or the myelin sheath. An electromyography differentiates myogenic (muscle tissue) from neurogenic (nerve tissue) causes of weakness and can confirm abnormal neuromuscular junctions. A nerve biopsy is needed only when other tests are inconclusive. In the case of back pain, suspicion of a neuropathic source calls for radiologic or electrodiagnostic evidence of radiculopathy (involving the nerve roots).

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Frequency and Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

The most common neuropathies result from diabetes, alcoholism, cancer, Guillain-Barré syndrome, nutritional deficiencies (especially B vitamins), hypothyroidism, kidney failure, amputations (phantom pain), or poisoning by toxic drugs, metals or other chemicals --- such as PCBs. 

Peripheral neuropathy is common, because it can happen whenever nerves are damaged. Recent surveys show that 15 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy. (Any estimate of the prevalence of neuropathic pain should include a proportion -- perhaps 10% -- of persons with low-back pain, which would increase the prevalence.) For roughly 40% of neuropathy cases, the cause is unknown. Could PCBs be causing significant numbers of these cases, due to widespread contamination and exposure?

(The information above was gathered and condensed from several websites listed under LINKS, except for the discussion of PCBs.)

Go to Study Summaries --- The Link Between PCBs and Neuropathy

peripheral neuropathy, tingling feet, tingling hands, tingling in feet, tingling in hands, foot hands tingling, hands numbness tingling, tingling in arms hands, numbness tingling in foot hands, numb hands, foot hands numb, numb foot, foot numb tingling, pins and needles, needle pin sensation, nerve damage, nervous system damage, numb, numbness, leg numbness
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