Here’s a study that shows how obstructive sleep apnea can cause peripheral neuropathy. The authors studied nerve function in the arms of patients with sleep apnea and found abnormal conduction measures which improved after CPAP treatment. They also mentioned that chronic intermittent hypoxia is a major aggravator of nerve conduction abnormalities. This could explain various numbness and tingling complaints that are rampant in the sleep-breathing disorders population. It could also explain Raynaud’s phenomenon, where your hands, feet, or other distal extremities can feel cold. Anecdotally, I’ve had a handful of patients tell me that their cold or numb hands and feet got better after treating obstructive sleep apnea.
Since it’s well known that diabetics have similar issues with peripheral neuropathy, and obstructive sleep apnea is a major risk factor for insulin resistance and elevated sugar levels, could it be possible that an underlying sleep-breathing process could also aggravate neuropathies in diabetics? Additionally, if peripheral nerves are affected, why can’t it affect your brain’s nerves as well?
How many of you with sleep apnea have peripheral neuropathy? If so, did it ever go away after sleep apnea treatment?