Looks like you have been looking for more information on peripheral neuropathy. And the good news is that you have landed on the right page – in the midst of all the medical information you can find on the web about diabetes, nerves, and blood circulation, this blog will cover information you need to know about peripheral neuropathy.
Beyond what causes this condition and the symptoms one may face when suffering from it, you should also understand how nerve damage can alter your day-to-day life, from doing the things you love to performing simple routine tasks. And we will touch on that too!
Our team of foot and ankle experts are equipped with the best knowledge and tools available to provide, both, accurate diagnosis and effective treatment options for you and your family. Included in that is patient education.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
The best starting point when it comes to peripheral neuropathy is understanding your nervous system.
Your nervous system is divided into two sections – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Essentially, your central nervous system is comprised of your spinal column and brain; any nerve that is located outside of the brain and spinal cord is called a peripheral nerve.
Now, the function of a peripheral nerve is to carry messages from the brain to other parts of the body. When peripheral nerves get damaged, these messages are not sent or received. This means that you won’t be able to recognize harmful situations, like stepping on a piece of glass.
Being unable to feel those lower extremities of the body is actually a huge problem that affects more than 50 percent of all diabetics at some point during the course of their disease. Together with high blood sugar levels (which also prevents one from healing properly), diabetes and peripheral neuropathy can result in painful ulcers and even lead to amputation.
So, if you are living with diabetes, having a foot care plan in place is vital in order to prevent serious complications from happening now and in the future.
But aside from gradual loss of feeling in the lower limbs, peripheral neuropathy can also present with other symptoms.
What Are the Other Symptoms?
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Sharp or shooting pain
- Burning or tingling
- Cramping or muscle tightness, or throbbing or achy muscles
- Phantom sensations (i.e.: pebble in shoe)
- Difficulty walking
These symptoms are most commonly found in the feet, although given time they can spread further and further to the level of the knees of even in your hand.
Are There Other Causes for Peripheral Neuropathy?
There are many possible causes for this condition (though diabetes is the most prevalent). These include:
- Kidney problems
- Alcohol use
- Vitamin deficiency
- Infectious and inflammatory diseases (like HIV or Guillain-Barré Syndrome)
- Exposure to toxins and heavy metals (mercury, lead, arsenic, etc.)
Nerve damage often results from systemic diseases, but 30 percent of causes are idiopathic (which means they stem from unknown causes). But regardless of why you developed this condition, the end result is always the same – many changes in your overall lifestyle.
The Effects of Peripheral Neuropathy in Your Overall Life
The truth is that not feeling your feet and ankles can cause much more turmoil in your life than you might initially expect.
Don’t believe us? Picture this:
- Losing your ability to drive. In order to safely drive a vehicle, you need to know where to place your feet. This entails feeling the pedals underneath them and applying the appropriate pressure to safely maneuver the vehicle.
- Losing your ability to be active. Pain or muscle control and coordination caused by peripheral neuropathy can keep you from doing the things you love, like jogging, hiking, playing sports, or shopping.
- Losing your mobility. Next thing you know, peripheral neuropathy is keeping you from simply walking or even standing.
- Developing serious wounds and injuries on your feet. Though we have already mentioned this, it is important to emphasize – as peripheral neuropathy prevents the nerves from sending warning signals to the brain, one is automatically at a higher risk of suffering from a serious wound, burn, or injury.
- Losing a limb. Amputations are common, which not only drastically (and permanently) reduces your quality of life, but also your life expectancy. Protecting your feet and inspecting them every day for injuries is an absolute must, especially if you are living with diabetes.
So not feeling your feet doesn’t mean that there is one less thing you need to worry about. On the contrary, this lack of concern will only allow the situation to get worse. Though, for some, this condition evolves slowly over years, for others it can progress rather quickly.
But, in either case, peripheral neuropathy will not go away on its own. And the worse your symptoms get, the more difficult it will become to treat them.
How is Peripheral Neuropathy Treated?
The key for successful treatment is early detection. So, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms we have mentioned, make sure you schedule the earliest possible appointment at Fixing Feet Institute.
When you come visit our office, we will thoroughly evaluate your feet and ankles, and ask questions about your symptoms, medical history, and exposure to toxic substances. Based on what we find, we will then create a treatment plan based on your specific situation.
Some of the most common treatment methods we use to provide relief from peripheral neuropathy include:
- Physical therapy
- Multiwave Locked System (MLS) laser therapy
When nonsurgical options have failed, you can take comfort in the fact that we have an expert surgeon on staff who is committed to continually improving his surgical skills. This means you always have the best foot and ankle surgeon in the area performing your procedure.
Find Expert Foot Care at Fixing Feet Institute
If you're starting to notice concerning signs, don't wait to seek the help you need. At Fixing Feet Institute, we can help manage your symptoms through medications, laser therapy, and other treatments.All you have to do is call us at (623) 584-5556 or simply fill out our handy request form online to have one of our trained staff members reach out to you.