Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder that can impair muscular movement and cause unusual sensations and pain in the extremities, often in the hands and feet. Other parts of the body can also be affected. We all have sensory nerves that inform us of such things as temperature, vibration, pain, and touch via the skin. Our motor nerves control muscle movement, and autonomic nerves take charge of regulating blood pressure, heart rate, bladder function, and digestion. Your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) sends signals to other parts of your body to transmit certain messages, such as letting us know when our feet are feeling too cold. Those same signals tell us when to move a muscle. When this peripheral nervous system sustains injury or stress, those important connections get interrupted, causing symptoms of nerve damage.
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
If you develop peripheral neuropathy, you may gradually experience a numbness in your feet or hands. Stinging or tingling sensations can also occur. These sensations or lack thereof can travel upward to the arms and legs.
Other symptoms include:
- Sharp, burning, freezing, or knifelike pain
- Intense sensitivity to touch
- Loss of balance, even tripping or falling
- Muscle weakness (if motor nerves are damaged)
If the distress is coming from autonomic nerve damage, you may experience sweating and an intolerance for heat, digestive issues, dizziness or unsteadiness.
Sometimes only one nerve is affected, which is called mononeuropathy. If two or more nerves are involved, multiple mononeuropathy or polyneuropathy is diagnosed.
What Can Cause Peripheral Neuropathy?
The team at American Foot and Leg Specialists often treats patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy because the symptoms are mainly experienced in the feet. It’s important to visit your podiatrist if you are having symptoms of nerve damage in your feet and/or legs.
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a sudden injury or repetitive stress. Sports injuries, surgery, and accidents can cause damage to nerves. Repetitious movements can constrict nerve pathways when ligaments and muscles become inflamed. An example of this is carpal tunnel syndrome.
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, however, can also have an underlying cause, such as a disease or disorder. Certain medications can also be the culprit.
If you have diabetes, diabetic neuropathy is a common complication that some patients experience. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy. You may lose some feeling in your feet, which can turn into a serious issue when blisters or ulcers form on the foot yet they can’t be felt, resulting in infection if not detected in time.
Anyone who has symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in their feet or legs should see a podiatrist. The podiatrists at American Foot and Leg Specialists are trained in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this type of nerve damage. Visit one of our four locations in the South Atlanta Metro area. We serve patients from Fulton, Cobb, Douglas, Fayette, Henry, and Clayton counties.
This article does not take the place of professional medical advice. Please call our staff at American Foot and Leg Specialists with questions or make an appointment with one of our physicians or contact an M.D. in your area.
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