Think about the difference between your skin and the rubber soles of your shoes. You can walk on hot surfaces or sharp rocks without feeling any pain when you wear shoes. If you were to walk barefoot on those surfaces, your feet would hurt—all because the nerves in your feet register the damage. If your nerves are ever impaired by something like peripheral neuropathy, however, you could incur serious damage without ever realizing it.
Blocked Nerves, Numb Feet
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with impaired, misfiring nerves in the extremities. Nervous tissue is very sensitive. Different issues, from injuries to illnesses, can damage the tissue and cause it to stop functioning properly. Feet have a particularly high risk for this problem. Once the neuropathy develops, your feet are not as sensitive as they were. You end up with varying degrees of numbness, which can mean your feet don’t feel small injuries when they occur. Sometimes your feet burn and tingle as the nerves misfire and send wrong information to the brain. Shooting pain, weak muscles, and even an abnormal sensitivity to touch can also be signs of neuropathy.
The Underlying Issues
Many different problems can cause peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes is the most common. High blood sugar levels damage the tissues around them. Sensitive nerves are among the first to feel the effects. Diabetes isn’t the only culprit, however. Autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis can damage your nerves. Infections like Lyme disease and HIV/AIDS can lead to pain and numbness as well. Even extreme vitamin deficiencies can take a toll and contribute to neuropathy.
Outside sources may have a hand in the issue, too. A physical injury that chronically pinches or compresses a nerve can lead to it misfiring. Exposure to toxins can damage the sensitive tissue and impair it. Chronic alcoholism weakens and even kills nerves over time, impairing your ability to feel. Certain drugs may have unintended side effects that cause nerve issues as well.
How to Handle Impaired Nerves
Unfortunately, nerve damage usually can’t be reversed once it develops. The problem can, however, be managed—and in fact, it’s important to do so to prevent worse problems. Dr. Sanjay Patel will carefully examine your feet to diagnose your neuropathy and the underlying cause. Once those issues have been determined and our team has a clear idea of the severity of the problem, we can tailor a treatment plan for your feet.
Your feet will have to be protected. Numbness prevents you from feeling injuries, which allows your feet to incur conditions that you might not notice until they are advanced. This is a particularly high risk if you have diabetes, since it also impairs your immune system. Small, unnoticed issues on your lower limbs could put your life at risk. You’ll need to wear protective shoes at all times and inspect your lower limbs for changes regularly. We may recommend medication to help with any discomfort as well. Treating the underlying condition will be key for slowing or stopping the progression of your nerve issues.
Peripheral neuropathy is a serious problem that can cause permanent pain, weakness, and injury risks. The problem only gets worse the longer it goes untreated, too. Don’t wait until your feet are completely numb to seek help for your condition. Let Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. help you instead. Use our website or call our two Connecticut offices to make an appointment: (203) 288-4055 for Hamden, or (203) 876-7736 for Milford.
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