Do Your Feet Tingle, Burn Or Go Numb?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that can cause tingling, burning or numbness in your feet. It can be commonly seen in diabetic patients.
This disease causes weakness, numbness and pain (usually in your hands or feet), as well as a loss of sensation that may be compared to the feeling of wearing a thick stocking.
It can be more noticeable during exercise or at night when you try to fall asleep and the tingling keeps you awake.
This tingling can range from a mild curiosity to irritation to outright discomfort.
Although it may not seem too alarming, this condition can cause ulcers, infections…even amputations.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can vary, so it's important to know what to look for.
Being unable to “feel” your feet or having a heavy pins-and-needles sensation is a hallmark of peripheral neuropathy or damage to the peripheral nervous system.
The nervous system is the body's way of transmitting information from the brain and spinal cord to the entire rest of the body.
The tingling may start off as gradual and therefore less noticeable, so pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Sharp or burning pains in the foot are also a big indicator. Because peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves of sensation, you may feel sharp or burning pain in your feet or toes, which is where the affected nerves lie.
This will also cause extreme sensitivity to touch as well as heat intolerance, two additional symptoms to look out for.
An essential step in determining if the pain is in fact neuropathy, is the EMG/NCV test. This helps us rule out any other complications.
There are several causes and triggers for peripheral neuropathy, many of which are other conditions and diseases or exposure to toxins.
Patients who have diabetes can develop neuropathy, due to nerve damage caused by elevated blood glucose levels over time.
The nerve damage often can occur without pain and one may not even be aware of the problem. Your podiatric physician can test feet for neuropathy with a simple and painless tool called a monofilament.
Infections and autoimmune disorders such as shingles, Lyme disease, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV and herpes can attack the nerve tissues and severely damage your sensory nerves, causing the sharp pain associated with peripheral neuropathy.
Long-term, heavy alcohol use or alcoholism that has been present for ten years or more is a major factor for neuropathy. While the exact cause is unknown, it is likely that it involves nerves being poisoned by the alcohol and the poor nutrition associated with alcoholism. According to many researchers, up to half of long-term heavy alcohol consumers may develop neuropathy.
Other causes associated with peripheral neuropathy include traumatic physical injuries that damage the nerves, vitamin deficiencies, metabolic problems and exposures to toxins such as chemotherapy.
Peripheral neuropathy can come and go over time and if left untreated, can become severe and debilitating. If diagnosed early, however, it can usually be controlled. A number of treatment plans can be developed to reduce the painful symptoms.
Pain relievers, vitamin supplements, anti-seizure medications, Lidocaine patches, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, foot braces, surgery, infrared therapy and antidepressants have all been used to treat and improve the symptoms caused by peripheral neuropathy.
People who suffer from neuropathy may also choose to relieve their pain by getting a regular "pedissage", a relaxing foot massage that uses Eastern techniques to relieve tight muscles and improve circulation.
Our office also offers laser therapy to treat neuropathy. Laser therapy increases circulation which promotes healing of the nerves. This treatment option can help reduce burning, tingling and numbness symptoms associated with neuropathy.
- Always wear shoes! If you can’t feel when you’ve stubbed or scraped your foot and you can open a wound where an infection can develop.
- Check your feet every day. This goes for all diabetics, but if you have a cut, you need to detect it as soon as possible.
- Choose shoes with a wide toe box and lots of protection. No sense in flaunting the toes in sandals if you’re prone to injury.
- Clean your room! Don’t have any obstructions in your way that you could trip over in the night.
- Avoid soaking your feet in hot, hot water which would result in a thermal burn. For example, if you’re going to have a pedicure, make sure it’s a healthy pedicure that takes place under conditions that are safe for diabetics.