Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in your toes—part of the “periphery” of your body—and is marked by numbness, burning, tingling, or shooting pain. These symptoms may also be experienced in your fingertips as well. Given that your nerves are responsible for communication between your brain and the rest of your body, it is important that they function properly so you have an accurate physical representation of what is happening. When the nerves and tissue are damaged, you might feel nothing (numbness) or sensations that aren’t there (burning, tingling, pain). The sensations that accompany this condition may be the sign of an even larger problem, like diabetes. For those who are living with this particular disease, it is critical to understand the implications of nerve damage. Your body already has an impaired ability to fight infection, but when your nerves are not telling you that there has been damage to your skin, it gives microbial organisms extra time to inflict damage. For this reason, a daily inspection of your feet is an essential part of daily foot care.
Disrupted Lines of Communication
There are various causes of peripheral neuropathy, but a major one is diabetes. A majority of individuals—60-70 percent by some estimates—who live with this disease will develop neuropathy at some point during their lives. In addition to diabetes, the damage to your nerves can result from a variety of sources, including:
- Medications. Some medications, including certain chemotherapy drugs, can lead to nerve and nerve tissue damage.
- Arthritis. Certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the nerves and impede their ability to send the correct signals.
- Alcoholism. As many as half of all heavy, long-term alcohol users are prone to developing nerve damage in their extremities.
- Heredity. If your family has a history of neuropathy, the odds are greater that you will also have this condition.
- Neurological disorders. Neurological disorders, which include fibromyalgia and spina bifida, are often associated with peripheral neuropathy.
- Injury. Acute injury to the peripheral nerves may affect their ability to function correctly.
The top priority with regard to home care for this condition is to inspect your feet daily for any cuts or wounds. This is even more important when the cause of your neuropathy is diabetes. With this disease, your body has a compromised ability to fight off infection. When you have a wound that is left untreated (because you cannot feel it), it has an increased risk of becoming infected. In addition to daily inspections, you should also wear socks and shoes at all times (no walking barefoot), even at home. Check your shoes before you put them on, so as to ensure that there is nothing inside that can puncture the skin and potentially lead to an infection.
Bringing in an Expert
Taking care at home is smart and can help decrease the risk of a serious condition, but it does not replace making a trip to see Dr. Amy Miller-Guhl or Dr. David Guhl. With peripheral neuropathy, you need an expert to assess your particular situation and develop an effective treatment plan. When you experience numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in your feet, make an appointment to see us.
Monitoring your glucose levels and keeping them under control will certainly help to prevent this condition from happening in the first place. There is a corresponding relationship between neuropathy and blood sugar control. Tightly managing blood sugar leads to better sensation and feeling in the feet and toes. When you need expert foot care, Waukesha Foot Specialists is here for you. Contact our Waukesha, WI office by calling (262) 544-0700 and schedule an appointment with us today.