Are you experiencing a tingling sensation or a burning pain that shoots through your feet? Are you struggling to feel anything at all? Disconcerting symptoms like these often stem from a form of nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy. Though the condition can't be reversed, treatment and management should begin as soon as possible to relieve symptoms and prevent further damage. Here's what you should know about peripheral neuropathy and how our exceptional Alexandria podiatrists can help you manage it effectively.
About Peripheral Neuropathy
Your nervous system serves as the highway through which information and orders travel between the body and the brain and/or spinal cord. It's how we sense the world around us and how we control our movement.
When nerves sustain damage or die, this flow of information can be disrupted, resulting in peripheral neuropathy. The word "neuropathy" essentially means "damage to the nerves," while the term "peripheral" specifies that the damage in question is to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. This condition can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Pain (often described as "sharp," "burning," "freezing," or "shooting")
- Extreme sensitivity
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of coordination
- Other symptoms
Symptoms can vary dramatically depending on the extent and the severity of the damage that's occurred. However, many patients develop numbness over time as the condition of the nerves continues to deteriorate.
Peripheral Neuropathy Causes
Nerve damage can have any number of causes, the most common of which is the effects of diabetes. More than half of people who live with diabetes will develop peripheral neuropathy at some point, largely due to the condition's effect on circulation, reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the feet. Even without diabetes, the feet already have a difficult enough time getting proper circulation, which is why the nerves there tend to be the first to suffer as circulation is reduced.
Other potential causes of neuropathy include trauma to the nerves, vitamin deficiencies, alcoholism, certain infections, some inherited disorders, and exposure to toxins.
Managing Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is not something that can be reversed, but it is very important to manage the condition and relieve symptoms as much as possible. Proper management of neuropathy is critical, especially in cases where diabetes is involved. Complications of diabetes include slower healing processes. Combine this with numbness and loss of sensation in the feet, and even small injuries that go unnoticed can turn into large ulcers with a high risk of infections.
At Capital Podiatry Associates, we're pleased to offer laser therapy for neuropathy symptoms. Not only is this treatment extremely effective at relieving pain in areas of damage, but it also encourages increased blood flow and stimulates cell repair—and does it all in quick, painless sessions.
Additional methods for managing peripheral neuropathy may include pain relief medications, topical creams (such as those containing capsaicin), and physical therapy. Lifestyle, including dietary choices and exercise, can also play a very important role in peripheral neuropathy management. Our experts will work with you to determine the best—and safest—ways for you to be active without increasing your risk of injury.
Request an Appointment With One of Our Peripheral Neuropathy Specialists
If you are starting to notice the telltale signs of peripheral neuropathy, don't put off treatment. The first step to getting the help you need is just a call or click away. Contact Capital Podiatry Associates through our online contact form or call our Alexandria office at (703) 560-3773 to request an appointment for evaluation and treatment.