Neuropathy refers to an overall decrease of sensation to the extremities. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation throughout the extremities. Other signs include a sharp, shooting pain, or a combination of all of them. Aside from being painful or uncomfortable, neuropathy is a danger because it dulls overall sensation and keeps you from feeling pain properly. Often, neuropathy gets progressively worse over time. While there are several causes, only a few of the common ones will be discussed below.
Diabetes (Both Type I and Type II):
Diabetes is most commonly associated with neuropathy. There are 2 main schools of thought behind the main cause of Diabetic neuropathy. One theory is that due to overall worse circulation for most Diabetics, the nerves begin to die off due to starvation of oxygen. The other idea is that continuous high glucose/blood sugar levels eventually coats itself around the nerve, thereby dulling the overall sensation. Either way, having decreased sensation as a Diabetic further leads into potential health complications. The result is a cascade effect: if you cannot properly detect pain, then you will not realize when an area is tender, or if were to step on something. Because of that, you will continue walking on that same area without the knowledge that something is wrong, leading to the forming of a wound or ulceration over time. On top of that, many may not notice until drainage or an odor appears. At that point, there is a high likelihood for an infection to form. This is sadly a very typical scenario which we see with Diabetic patients who develop ulcerations on their feet.
Lower Back Pain/Issues:
All nerves that appear in your foot can be traced up the leg, into the thigh, and ultimately originating from the nerve root of your lower back. Over time, there tends to be some degree of narrowing within the spine (vertebra) of the lower back, usually leading to a progressive arthritic change. Other times, there may have been some degree of trauma, autoimmune disease, or a combination of any of the above. Either way, the narrowing leads to pinched nerves and bulging discs, which in turns causes neuropathy (pain, numbness, and/or tingling) in the lower extremities.
Local Nerve Impingement/Irritation:
Impingement of a nerve usually occurs due to some degree of irritation, inflammation, or trauma. In the foot and ankle it can happen at any location and give off the sensations as described by neuropathy. A somewhat well known area is called the tarsal tunnel, which refers to the course of a major nerve (Tibial nerve) right behind the ankle bone from the tibia (medial malleolus). If there are no known back issues and symptoms of either a sharp or dull pain persists in a certain area, then it is likely you might have some degree of a local nerve impingement or irritation.
While there are many things you could try to combat neuropathy, one product in particular that we do offer at the office and online store is called NeuRx-TF. These are dietary supplements with 2 amino acids which have been shown to help with easing the discomforts of neuropathy. We also offer a skin biopsy test which aims to analyze the density of nerve fibers in an area to further diagnose the degree of neuropathy you may be experiencing.
General treatment for peripheral neuropathy is largely conservative, including nutritional supplements, pain creams, prescription medications, and/or injection therapy. We typically recommend working with a neurologist (nerve specialist) or a spine specialist in the process, depending on what the underlying cause is. Small procedures, such as the skin biopsy may also be necessary. In some cases, surgical procedures to release swollen and compressed nerves may be appropriate as well.
For more information, please feel free to get in touch with us.