What Does Impaired Sensation Mean?
rely on their sense of touch to quickly pull away from a hot object or feel
changes in terrain under their feet. These are referred to as sensations. It’s
known as impaired sensation if you can’t feel as well, especially with your
hands or feet.
sensation can be a temporary occurrence that takes place after an injury or a
chronic condition that’s the result of diabetes or another illness. Sudden
impaired sensation can be a medical emergency.
What Are the Symptoms of Impaired Sensation?
Impaired sensation can cause the absence of feeling
or replace typical sensations with different ones. These include:
Impaired sensations can lead to injury and balance
What Are the Causes of Impaired Sensation?
If you’ve ever crossed your legs and had one go numb
when you stand up, you’ve experienced impaired sensation. While this feeling
may go away in a few minutes, impaired sensation associated with other
conditions may not. Examples include:
- brain tumor
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- chronic kidney failure
- diabetes mellitus
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- head injury
- herniated disc
- herpes zoster, which causes
diseases like chicken pox and shingles
- lead poisoning
- opioid dependence
- peripheral neuropathy
- phantom limb pain that
occurs after an amputation
- spinal cord injury
- ulnar nerve palsy
When Do I Seek Medical Help for Impaired Sensation?
Sudden loss of sensation can be a medical emergency because
it can be a sign of stroke. Seek immediate medical attention if you or a loved
one experiences the following symptoms:
- loss of balance
- sudden confusion
- sudden, severe headache with
no known cause
- sudden weakness on one side
of the body
- trouble seeing
See your doctor if your impaired sensation symptoms
seem to be getting worse or you are experiencing falls or balance loss because
of impaired sensations.
How Is Impaired Sensation Diagnosed?
Your doctor may start to diagnose impaired sensation
by asking you several questions, including taking a medical history. Questions your
doctor may ask include:
- Where do you feel the
sensations? Do they feel deep under your skin or just across the top of your
- When do the sensations occur
most often? Do they last all day or do they come and go?
- Does anything make your
symptoms feel worse or better, such as rest, moving, or sleeping?
A physical examination often comes next. Your doctor
may tap lightly on your skin to determine how much you can feel.
Your doctor may also recommend certain tests,
depending upon where your symptoms are. These could include:
- imaging scans, such as
computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- nerve conduction studies,
which measure how well electrical impulses pass through your nerves
- reflex tests
How Is Impaired Sensation Treated?
Treatment for impaired sensations depends on what
your doctor has identified as the cause. For example, diabetic neuropathy is a
common cause of impaired sensation. Treatments can include helping a person
maintain better blood sugar control by checking blood sugar levels and treating
high readings with insulin. A doctor may prescribe pain medications to treat
the pain from abnormal sensations. Practicing careful foot care, including
having your toenails cut at a podiatrist’s office and going to regular foot
exam appointments, can also help.
In some instances, such as a pinched nerve or
sciatica, surgery can help relieve the pressure on the nerve.