When people miscommunicate, sometimes it’s referred to as “getting their signals crossed.” This is a good analogy to what happens when peripheral nerves are damaged causing peripheral neuropathy. The signals these nerves usually send to your brain get mixed up and the miscommunication can result in a number of issues ranging from annoying to downright painful and even dangerous. While there are various causes for this condition to occur — including alcoholism, exposure to toxins, vitamin deficiencies, infections, injuries, medications, and certain diseases – perhaps the most common reason behind peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. When this is the culprit, your feet can encounter serious complications.
Strange Feelings or No Feelings at All
Because peripheral nerves carry messages from skin and muscles, damage to them means your feet can feel weak, painful or numb to any feeling at all. You may also experience tingling, burning or freezing sensations, throbbing, sensitivity to touch, sharp or stabbing pains, and a lack of coordination. Clearly, these symptoms can have a negative effect on your quality of life and interfere with your daily and favorite activities. Managing peripheral neuropathy is essential to living a full and active life, and is especially imperative if you have diabetes. That’s because poor circulation is also associated with diabetes, and when paired with neuropathy, can lead to dangerous results.
A Dangerous Combination
When you have diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, numbness in your feet means you can sustain an injury without really even knowing it. Poor blood flow means healing nutrients will be slow to reach that injury. The longer the healing process takes, the more likely even the smallest of wounds can become infected and snowball into major complications like ulcerations and even amputation. In addition, lack of any sensation can even disguise a broken bone. If this occurs without your knowledge and you continue to walk on it, further damage can occur and bones can eventually collapse and severely deform, a condition called Charcot foot that can also lead to amputation. Treating peripheral neuropathy at the first onset of symptoms is key to avoiding these serious issues.
Living with Neuropathy
The first step in managing this condition is keeping a close eye out for the start of any problems. A daily self-foot check is a must. Look for things like blisters, scratches, redness, warmth, changes in skin or nail color, or anything else out of the ordinary. Don’t smoke and be sure to keep your weight and blood sugar levels in check with a healthy diet. Medication, applied directly, ingested or injected, can help to minimize symptoms as well. Physical therapy will help to maintain muscle strength, and exercise and massage can encourage blood flow. Electronic stimulation and laser therapy can also be beneficial in helping restore function to damaged peripheral nerves.
Associates in Podiatry is here for you, too! We can help determine a treatment plan that best suits your lifestyle and needs. Call us for an appointment in Roselle Park, NJ at (908) 687-5757, or in Princeton at (609) 924-8333. Regular appointments with us will go a long way toward managing your peripheral neuropathy and helping you to enjoy the life you love.