Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of neuropathy affecting the peripheral nerves of the feet. Damage to peripheral nerves can alter the ability to sense pain or temperature and may affect muscle control. Neuropathy is a potentially dangerous condition as the individual loses their protection mechanism from pain or injury.
Other symptoms include:
- Numbness, tightness, or tingling
- Shooting pain through the foot
- Loss of balance
- Foot deformities
- Dry feet
- Diabetes (approximately 50 per cent of diabetics suffer from diabetic neuropathy).
- Metabolic disease such as diabetes, chronic renal failure and liver failure
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Infections such as shingles (post herpetic neuralgia) or AIDS
- Pressure on a nerve or irritation of the nerve (such as in Mortons neuroma)
- Toxic substances, including alcohol or heavy metals
- Vitamin deficiency, which may or may not be related to other medical conditions such as coeliac disease
- Radiation & Chemotherapy
- Trauma (eg bone fractures)
- Irritation and/or tumours of the spinal cord
- Inherited neuropathies
- However, in many cases, no underlying disorder can be diagnosed.
The best way to treat neuropathy is to control the underlying condition. People with Diabetes must start with getting their blood sugar under control. It is essential that an individual with neuropathy inspects their feet daily for cuts, abrasions, blisters, or swelling.
Your Podiatrist can provide you with an appropriate diagnosis, perform a thorough neurological assessment and outline an appropriate management plan according to your level of risk. Some medications can assist in reducing the symptoms. Exercises may be prescribed to improve function, stability and strength.
There is no known cure for peripheral neuropathy. The goal of treatments are to slow the progression of the disease, to maintain foot health, and to decrease pain (if present) and improve the quality of life.