Neuropathy Signs and Symptoms
Your nervous system is comprised of an extensive matrix of nerves and neurons that transmit signals which control and affect every area. When everything is functioning normally, it’s easy to take this remarkable system for granted. When a problem like peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) arises, though, you will need treatment to address symptoms including:
- Gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your feet or hands, which can spread upward into your legs and arms
- Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, freezing or burning pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected
Neuropathy Treatment Options and Preventative Measures
In most cases, the objective of treatment is to relieve symptoms and manage the condition that causes the neuropathy. With regards to relieving symptoms, medication and various therapies may be prescribed. Therapies may entail electrical nerve stimulation, laser therapy, or braces and physical therapy to improve movement.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure from a growth that is pressing on a nerve and blocking signals. At our South Hill office, we have a Medicare-approved surgical center where Dr. Borys Markewych performs minimally-invasive procedures for patients. These surgeries are especially effective when the root cause of the problem is a compressed nerve. In a case like this, Dr. Markewych can relieve the pressure on the affected nerve, which then may restore normal nerve function.
With regards to preventing this problem from developing in the first place, there are two essential paths that can help – making healthy lifestyle choices and managing underlying conditions. Lifestyle choices provide benefit by keeping nerves strong and healthy. These choices include:
- Eating a proper diet. Strong, healthy nerves need proper nutrition. This is provided by foods like whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. Vitamin B-12 is particularly beneficial and found in dairy products, eggs, fish, lean meats, and fortified cereals (preferably those that are low in sugar).
- Avoiding various risk factors. Cramped positions for extended periods of time, repetitive motions, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, and exposure to toxic chemicals should be avoided.
- Exercising regularly. There are countless benefits to working out on a regular basis, including reducing the risk of neuropathy. Check with our office and your primary care physician before beginning an exercise program, but make sure you get 30-60 minutes of physical activity at least three times a week.
The Peripheral Nervous System and Neuropathy
The nervous system is responsible for controlling how we move, experience the world, and process information. To accomplish those objectives, the nervous system is actually divided into two different components – the central and peripheral nervous systems.
It is comprised of the spinal cord and brain, and this is where the processing of information occurs. The peripheral nervous system consists of a network of peripheral nerves running throughout the body to collect and transmit information back to the central nervous system.
When we discuss neuropathy our focus is mainly on the peripheral nerves, since they are the most often affected. Peripheral neuropathy can be thought of as a condition marked by an interruption in the internal communication processes that happens between the brain and body.
The most significant risk factor for developing neuropathy tends to be diabetes, but there are certainly others. Alcohol abuse, various infections, family history, exposure to toxins, and autoimmune disorders can contribute to increasing the likelihood of neuropathy.
An individual who has diabetic neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is at increased risk for Charcot foot and tissue death (gangrene). Charcot foot can happen when diminished blood flow from PAD weakens the bones in the foot. When bones break from the forces that come with walking, the brain is unaware (on account of the nerve damage) and the individual will continue to perform normal activities. This creates a cycle wherein severe deformity results.
Another major complication for those who have diabetic neuropathy is that a cut, scrape, or other injury can open the door for a possible infection, which the body has a diminished capacity to fight. Left untreated, severe infection may set in and lead to gangrene. There is no way to reverse this damage and amputation is often required.
Professional Foot and Ankle Nerve Care
Peripheral neuropathy puts your feet at risk for serious medical conditions and emergencies, but Dr. Markewych and his team here at South Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic provide the care you need. In addition to expert treatment, we also offer tips and advice to keep you safe, especially if you require assistance with diabetic foot care.
Contact our Spokane, WA office for additional information from our friendly staff by calling (509) 747-0274. You can also take advantage of our online form to request your appointment with us today.