In order to fully understand peripheral neuropathy, one must first get to know a little more about the system which supports it: the peripheral nervous system.
The peripheral nervous system works as a messenger to send sensation signals (pain, pleasure, etc.) from your body to your brain. Your brain is then able to interpret these messages and, in turn, lets you know what is happening. This is an important job – if you are in pain, you can then address whatever is causing it and avoid any potential harm to your body.
However, when peripheral neuropathy occurs, this becomes very difficult (even impossible at times). And that’s where things become dangerous.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a very serious and potentially dangerous nerve issue. It occurs when the nerves have been damaged or destroyed by an underlying cause. This sends the whole system out of whack and can cause you to feel pain when there is nothing wrong or, even more disturbingly, not to feel pain when there is a serious problem.
People living with diabetes are often affected by this condition, which adds a unique problem to an already scary disease. Since peripheral neuropathy can prevent one from feeling pain signals in their limbs (especially their lower limbs), those diagnosed with diabetes are at a higher risk of suffering foot and ankle injuries that go unnoticed until the problem has escalated.
When you couple the lack of feeling caused by neuropathy and the inability to heal properly typically brought about by diabetes, the results can be dangerous – with heightened risk for painful ulcers and amputation. And, because of this, taking special precautions with the feet and checking them daily for anything out of the ordinary is an important aspect of diabetic foot care.
What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?
Symptoms often vary depending on the location, severity, and the type of nerves that are being affected. Some of the most common signs of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Burning or tingling sensations
- Cramping or muscle tightness
- Nerve pain
Numbness is, in fact, the most concerning of all peripheral neuropathy symptoms – though you may be happy to be rid of pain, lacking sensation in your feet means that you are much more likely to develop serious wounds and injuries. If you can’t feel your feet, then you won’t be able to keep them safe from threatening objects and environments.
What Causes Neuropathy?
The most common cause of nerve damage and neuropathy is unmanaged diabetes. Diabetes can wreak havoc on your body due to high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure. So it’s crucial to manage diabetes by keeping your blood sugar levels low and your weight in a healthy range.
However, diabetes is not the only cause of neuropathy. There are also other risk factors, including:
- Kidney disease
- Vitamin deficiency
- Chronic inflammation, and more.
Injury is another common cause of neuropathy, as well as heavy alcohol consumption (which acts as a toxin in your body and can completely destroy your nerves). Other reasons this condition develops include exposure to toxins, autoimmune diseases, and certain kinds of medication.
Sometimes, the root cause of nerve damage is unknown, and these are categorized as idiopathic.
What Are the Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy?
As we have already mentioned, if you have diabetes it is essential to keep your disease managed with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and by maintaining blood sugar levels.
You should also be in the practice of checking your feet daily – do it at the same time every day so you never forget, and check them thoroughly between the toes, by the ankles, and around the nail beds.
If you can’t manage to see various places of your feet on your own, then use a mirror or the help of a loved one. And if you notice anything out of the ordinary, immediately give our office a call to get the treatment you need – even the smallest sore left untreated can become a diabetic foot ulcer and may ultimately require amputation.
The key for successful treatment is addressing the condition at its early stages. If you are experiencing any of the already mentioned symptoms, make sure you schedule a visit to our office immediately – we will evaluate your situation so that we can determine an accurate diagnosis and provide the most beneficial methods of treatment available for your specific case.
Find Expert Peripheral Neuropathy Care at Fixing Feet Institute
If you have diabetes accompanied by a nerve issue like peripheral neuropathy, then you need to be under professional care. Fixing Feet Institute is here for you and ready to help you manage the disease.
If you have any questions, call Dr. Peyman Elison at (623) 584-5556 to schedule an appointment at our Surprise, AZ location.