Peripheral neuropathy occurs when you peripheral nervous system, which sends information from your brain and spinal cord to your arms and legs, is damaged. When this occurs in your feet, your lower extremities may not be getting the messages they need, like that they are cold or need to contract to move. People with peripheral neuropathy usually describe a tingling, burning or stabbing pain in their feet. Fortunately, in many cases the related symptoms are treatable to provide you some relief.
Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
In America, the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. This is because the condition can lead to nerve damage when it is not properly managed. Other causes of peripheral neuropathy include family medical history, obesity, high blood pressure, kidney disorders, chronic inflammation, injury, medication, infections and aging.
Patients who have peripheral neuropathy are at risk of developing further complications, such as Charcot foot, if the lower extremities are not properly monitored or taken care of. Prevent further complications by scheduling an appointment with the board certified podiatrists at Certified Foot & Ankle Specialists to diagnose your condition, treat your symptoms and address the underlying cause of your nerve damage.
Peripheral Neuropathy Treatments – Conservative Options
Treatment for foot neuropathy is aimed at relieving pain and restoring sensation to improve the patient’s function and quality of life. There is no cure for peripheral neuropathy but proper treatment will slow progression and address your symptoms. If the cause of the foot neuropathy is known, then treating the underlying cause may provide relief. Unfortunately, 33% of the time podiatrist do not know what causes the neuropathy and must treat only the symptoms.
If your case is in the early stages, your podiatrist will first recommend conservative measures to decrease your pain. These incudes managing diabetes better, pain medications, physical therapy, casting, acupuncture and message. For severe cases, or cases that aren’t responding to a conservative approach, surgery many be the next option.
Peripheral Neuropathy Surgery
In many cases, there is found to be nerve entrapment related to the foot neuropathy, which is responsible for the pain or numbness. This is determined primarily by physical exam but can be confirmed, but not ruled out, with nerve conduction studies. In these cases, if the patient is a good surgical candidate, nerve surgery on the foot, or peripheral neuropathy surgery, may relieve pain and restore normal sensation.
In peripheral neuropathy surgery, the nerves in the foot and leg are decompressed or freed of surrounding pressure which in turn results in less pain and improved sensation. Nerve surgeries on the foot are outpatient procedures and recovery is relatively quick. Success rates of this type of foot neuropathy treatment, using nerve surgery on the foot and leg, have been reported at 90% for relief of pain and 70% for return of normal sensation.