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The Perils of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral NeuropathyTraffic signals warn people when they need to stop and when it’s safe to go. Your peripheral nervous system works similarly to this by sending signals from your body to your brain, giving yourself the go ahead or making you stop what you’re doing immediately. When nerves are damaged and peripheral neuropathy strikes, your body’s built-in traffic signals malfunction and lose their ability to warn you of danger, such as something being too hot, cold, or painful. As a result, injuries can occur and at times, lead to even bigger problems.

When Signals Get Crossed

Sensory nerves which connect to your skin, and motor nerves which connect to muscles are the two types of peripheral nerves that affect the feet. When neuropathic nerve damage occurs, the resulting effects include sharp, stabbing pain, numbness, tingling, burning, extreme sensitivity, loss of coordination, and muscle weakness. These symptoms can range from annoying to downright dangerous, and can stem from a number of different causes.

Watch for These Red Lights

There are multiple reasons behind peripheral neuropathy, so it’s important to determine what’s causing the problem in order to treat it appropriately. Early diagnosis offers you the best chance to manage your symptoms and prevent further nerve damage, so be aware of the following risk factors:

Underlying diseases. Kidney disease, autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and most commonly, diabetes, can all be associated with neuropathy. Additional side effects such as poor circulation can result in dangerous consequences for those with diabetes in particular. A wound can easily go unnoticed in a numb foot, and poor blood flow can inhibit that wound from receiving the healing nutrients it needs. This dangerous combination can lead to Infection, ulceration, and even amputation.

Alcoholism and Vitamin Deficiencies. These tend to go hand in hand, as excessive alcohol intake can lead to poor dietary choices, and lack of certain vitamins (B and E) that are important to nerve health.

Toxins. Exposure to some heavy metals or chemicals can be damaging to nerves.

Tumors and Trauma. Growths can place pressure on the nerves causing damage, and sudden trauma, like that from a car accident or sports injury, can do damage as well.

Medications and Infections. Certain medications, like those used to treat cancer, can result in nerve damage, as can certain viral and bacterial infections.

Those who are overweight, over 40, smoke, or have high blood pressure are also at risk.

Proceed with Caution

Clearly, at the first signs of peripheral neuropathy symptoms, it’s essential that you come in to our neuropathy center at McDowell Podiatry Group. That way, we can assess your problem, determine the cause, and treat it properly and promptly. Any underlying conditions will need to be addressed, and we will develop a treatment plan to manage symptoms. This may include physical therapy, medication, laser treatments, or help with proper diet and exercise. Learn more by paying us a visit in Carmichael, CA. You can make an appointment by calling (916) 961-3434 or by using our convenient online contact form. 

Dr. Brian McDowell
Dr. Brian McDowell, board-certified podiatrist, provides cutting-edge foot and ankle care in Carmichael, CA.