Do you have numbness, tingling or pricking sensations in your foot? Do you have muscle weakness in your feet, ankles or legs? Do you experience extreme sensitivity to the lightest touch? Then you may be suffering from peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy describes damage to your peripheral nervous system which sends information back and forth between your brain and spinal cord and the rest of your body. When damage occurs to the peripheral nervous system, it’s like static on a telephone line that distorts, and sometimes stops, communication signals.
Neuropathy can affect only one nerve, although it more often affects multiple nerves. But occasionally, it can affect two or more isolated nerves located in separate areas of the body.
Neuropathy can occur due to many reasons, such as infection, inflammation, trauma, metabolic abnormalities, autoimmune or inherited disorders, neurotoxins, nerve compression, tumors, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.
In the feet, nerve inflammation can be caused by wearing high-heeled or ill-fitting shoes that bind the toes. Also, people with diabetes are more likely to develop peripheral neuropathy which often starts in the feet and gradually progresses up both legs.
Symptoms of neuropathy may include:
- Temporary numbness, tingling or pricking sensations
- A sensation like insects crawling on the body
- Sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
- Burning sensations
- Sharp or shooting pains like electrical currents
- Organ or gland dysfunction, such as being unable to digest food easily or sweating abnormally
Sometimes symptoms may appear suddenly and progress rapidly, known as acute neuropathy. Or, symptoms may not be as noticeable at first and progress more slowly, known as chronic neuropathy. Sometimes, a person’s symptoms can remain the same for a long period of time. Neuropathies can also be a symptom of another disease. However, they are rarely fatal unless another disease is involved.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect you may be suffering from peripheral neuropathy, you should see your doctor for a thorough diagnosis. Some common treatments include: oral and topical medications, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, pain pumps which deliver medication directly to the spinal cord via a surgically implanted pump and catheter, physical therapy, psychological treatments, and complementary and alternative therapies.
Neuropathy of the Feet and Orthotics Use
If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy of the feet, you may benefit from wearing special shoes or custom orthotics like the ezWalker® Performance Insole. Ask your doctor if a custom orthotic with accommodating support is recommended. An accommodative orthotic will reduce pressure and prevent excess friction on the foot that can lead to skin ulcers, a common condition seen in people with peripheral neuropathy. Accommodative orthotics can also relieve pain and prevent further foot damage if you have other foot conditions, such as hammertoes or bunions.
Additionally, the ezWalker® Performance Insole can provide your feet with better protection by guiding them into a more desirable biomechanic position. This will help unload unwanted pressure on the bottoms of the feet.
Remember … when your feet feel good, you feel good.
Note: If you follow these guidelines and your pain or foot problems persist, you may have a more serious condition. See your physician for a more complete diagnosis and treatment.