Have your feet or toes ever felt numb after being out in the cold, or “fallen asleep” after you sat in an awkward position for an extended period of time? You may have been able to touch or poke your feet without sensing it—at least, not until feeling returned to your lower limbs in an uncomfortable, tingling rush. For people with neuropathy, though, that numbness, and sometimes even the burning and tingling, are everyday problems that affects their lives.
Peripheral neuropathy, is damage to the nerves in the extremities, impairing their ability to function. This is actually a complication for a wide variety of diseases, conditions, and injuries. Something causes the nerves to stop working properly, leading to numb spots or discomfort from misfiring nerve cells. Usually you end up with burning, tingling, or pins-and-needles sensations in the affected limbs. Diabetes is one of the most common culprits, but alcoholism, cancer, traumatic injuries, some infections, metabolic issues, and toxin exposure can also lead to serious nerve damage.
When this occurs in the feet, you develop a high risk for complications. Your feet support a significant amount of pressure and are regularly exposed to forces that could potentially injure you. However, if you aren’t able to feel minor injuries, you may never notice a change and fail to treat a problem. Even small cuts or blisters increase your risk of infection. Also, continuing to walk on injuries can lead to compounded damage over time and result in serious complications.
Treating the Pain
Symptoms from neuropathy may or may not improve with time, depending on the damage to the nerves. Compressed nervous tissue that is treated early, and a few conditions that are reversible, may not result in permanent problems. Nerve damage from diabetes and many other issues, however, is not reversible, though you can take steps to slow its progression and deal with the pain.
This condition needs to be addressed right away if you want any hope of preventing permanent injury. The podiatry team here at Martin Foot and Ankle will thoroughly evaluate your lower limbs and the extent of the issue. If the cause of your nerve pain is undiagnosed, we can help look for an underlying cause. We may request different tests or diagnostic images to look for injuries or changes that may have developed. Then we can help you move forward with remedies to manage your condition.
You’ll need to inspect your feet regularly for complications and injuries that you may have missed. Exercising carefully can help improve circulation to your lower limbs, which fights infections as well as improves your foot’s strength and stability. Shoe changes or orthotics can add cushioning and protection. You may need to make changes to your diet and give up smoking and alcohol as well. In some cases, you may need medications and different therapies, like plasma exchange, to help relieve your nerve pain symptoms.
Neuropathy can significantly impact your life and result in chronic pain and injuries. Address it right away to protect the overall health and comfort of your lower limbs and avoid a number of serious complications. Don’t wait to seek help and relief; contact Martin Foot and Ankle for an appointment with one of our podiatrists, or for more information. Fill out the website contact form or call (717) 757-3537 to reach any of our locations in Hanover, York, Lititz and Lancaster, PA.