Have you ever lost feeling in your feet? Imagine the feeling never coming back. People who suffer from peripheral neuropathy have to deal with the loss of sensation in their feet daily. Simply put, this is a disease that affects the nerves. When this type of damage occurs, they cannot function properly. Your nerves control how you feel pain and temperature, your sense of touch and the strength of your muscles. Many times, people will begin feeling the effects in their fingers and toes first. Another common symptom is lack of balance. Some may even have trouble moving their feet.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
The most common cause of peripheral nerve damage in America is diabetes. It is caused when diabetics don’t control their blood sugar properly, or it is too high for a long period of time. Between 60-70% of diabetics will develop neuropathy. Besides diabetes, there are a number of other possible causes:
- Problems with kidney function– If the kidney doesn’t function properly, toxic substances cannot be filtered out in the blood. In turn, the toxic substance causes nerve damage.
- Alcoholism and vitamin deficiency– Your nerves need nutrients to function. If you are not getting the adequate amounts, they won’t work properly. Overusing alcohol and not eating well can often cause vitamin deficiency.
- Disease– Inflammatory or infectious diseases like HIV or Guillain–Barré syndrome can affect the peripheral nerves.
- Toxic substances or medications– Substances like arsenic or chemotherapy medications often can cause nerve damage.
- Heredity– The disease can run in families.
- Age– As you get older your nerves don’t function as well.
- Neurological disorders– Some disorders like spina bifida and fibromyalgia are often associated with neuropathy.
- Injury– Trauma to the nerves can cause them to malfunction.
How do I know if I have peripheral neuropathy?
The symptoms of this type of nerve damage often surface very slowly. If you notice any of the signs below, call the podiatrists at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle:
- Tingling, numbness or tightness in the legs or feet
- A loss of feeling in your feet
- Stabbing, shooting or burning pains (this pain may worsen in the evening)
- Loss of balance or weakness
Can peripheral nerve damage be treated?
Yes, it can. The primary focus of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms by treating the cause. For example, if vitamin deficiency is the cause, then we would recommend that the patient eat a healthy diet and take supplements. The same theory goes for diabetic patients as well. Proper monitoring of blood sugar is key to addressing nerve damage. If muscle strength is affected, physical therapy may be recommended. Lastly, some medications can relieve the pain associated with the nerves.
Peripheral neuropathy isn’t something you should leave untreated. If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms listed above in your own feet or if you are diabetic, schedule an appointment with the podiatrists in our Berkley, MI office. Either call our office at (248) 545-0100 or request an appointment online. Our foot specialists have been practicing in the Berkley, Southfield, Royal Oak, Oak Park & Ferndale areas for over 30 years.