While external wounds and injuries are common ways to hurt one's feet, there are also internal injuries that can cause pain. These issues can get serious since there will not be an external sign of damage to the person. The main sign that something is wrong is typically in the type of pain the patient feels. One such condition is known as peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is the result of damage to the peripheral nerves, often resulting in weakness, discomfort and numbness to the feet or hands. The peripheral nervous system is responsible for transmitting information from the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to other areas of the body.
At Foot & Ankle Specialty Clinic, we can help identify and treat neuropathy in the feet to help ease the patient's pain and prevent the condition from hindering movement.
Neuropathy can be caused by infections, traumatic injuries, metabolic issues, genetics and exposure to toxins. Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common causes of neuropathy. Patients struggling with neuropathy usually describe the pain as tingling, burning or stabbing.
At-home treatment methods or products in stores will only be effective in managing the pain. Professional treatment is necessary to diagnose the cause so that patients can receive personalized treatments. Our team will take the time to customize the neuropathy treatment to the individual needs of each patient.
All the nerves in the peripheral system have a specific function. This means that the symptoms of neuropathy depend on the affected nerve. Nerves are categorized into sensory, automatic and motor nerves. Sensory nerves pick up on sensations such as pain, temperature or touch. Automatic nerves include the heart rate, blood pressure, bladder function and digestion.
While automatic nerves relate to functions that people cannot easily control, motor nerves relate to movement with messages from the brain to the muscles.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Part of the issue is that people may assume neuropathy symptoms are just common aches and pains. Since most people are on the feet for much of the day, it can be more difficult to identify if the pain is the result of normal daily movement or neuropathy. Identifying the symptoms of neuropathy will help patients to know when they need to seek professional treatment.
The symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Loss of coordination and falling
- Excessive sensitivity to touch
- Prickly, jabbing, burning, throbbing, or burning pain
- Numbness, tingling, or prickling in the feet or hands
- Muscle feebleness or paralysis if motor nerves are involved
- Abnormal sweating and heat intolerance
- Bladder, bowel or digestive issues
- Altered blood pressure, which may cause dizziness
Peripheral neuropathy can affect a single nerve (called mononeuropathy) or multiple nerves (polyneuropathy) in different locations. The condition disturbs communication between the nerves and the brain. An example of mononeuropathy is Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Patients should seek medical care immediately they discover strange tingling, feebleness, or pain in their hands or feet. Early diagnosis and treatment give the patient a higher chance to control the symptoms and prevent additional damages to the peripheral nerves.
Causes of Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage, caused by different conditions such as:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Necrotizing vasculitis
- Heredity disorders
The Treatment Process
Since the symptoms and extent of the neuropathy can vary, we will run a series of tests to determine the most effective treatment. The tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Muscle strength tests
- Spinal fluid tests
- Analyses of the ability to detect touch or vibrations
- CT scan
- Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies
- Nerve and skin biopsy
- MRI scan
Although there is no cure for neuropathy, we can take measure to prevent complications. If we identify a specific condition that is contributing to the patient's pain, then we will recommend receiving treatment for that condition to help the overall neuropathy treatment plan. Over-the-counter medications will not help to treat the condition, only providing temporary relief.
We will help determine the most effective treatment plan for the patient. We can also continue to provide treatment with follow-up appointments if necessary. Our goal is to help patients find long-term relief from their pain and neuropathy.
Call Us Today
Patients can prevent peripheral neuropathy by making certain lifestyle choices. The risks are lower when patients avoid alcohol, eat healthily, shed weight, avoid toxins and exercise regularly. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more likely the condition will get worse and make daily activities more difficult.
Take care of the feet you need to function on a frequent basis and seek professional neuropathy treatment. If you notice any of the symptoms of neuropathy, call us to learn more about possible treatment options at our practice today.
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