Peripheral neuropathy means these nerves don’t work properly. It may occur because of damage to a single nerve or a group of nerves in the feet and legs.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy
Symptoms depend on which nerve is damaged, and whether the damage affects one nerve, several nerves, or all the nerves to the feet and legs. The most common symptoms are burning, numbness, tingling, or shooting or stabbing pain in the toes and/or feet. Those sensations may be the first sign of another problem, such as diabetes, and if they occur you should see a doctor. People with peripheral neuropathy are a greater risk for wounds, infections, and amputations.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
Neuropathy is very common and there are many types and causes. Diabetes is the most common cause of this type of nerve problem. High blood sugar levels over a long time can damage your nerves. The condition may also be genetic and in some cases no cause can be found.
Other health conditions that may cause neuropathy are:
- Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- Chronic kidney or liver disease
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Infections such as HIV/AIDS, shingles, hepatitis C
- Low levels of vitamin B1, B6, B12, or other vitamins
- Metabolic disease
- Poisoning due to heavy metals, such as lead
- Poor blood flow to the legs
- Underactive thyroid gland
- Bone marrow disorders
- Certain inherited disorders
How is peripheral neuropathy treated?
If you have diabetes, you play a vital role in preventing and minimizing the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. If left untreated diabetic neuropathy can end with serious consequences. Prevention methods include:
- Keeping blood sugar levels under control
- Inspect your feet every day – if you notice any abnormalities, see your podiatric physician immediately
- Wear well-fitting shoes to avoid pressure points
- Visit your foot and ankle physician on a regular basis for an examination to help detect the potential for a wound before it happens
Padding in your shoes or thicker socks can increase your comfort by cushioning your feet. If diabetes causes your neuropathy, then you may qualify for custom diabetic shoes with special inserts, which may help with the discomfort and provide additional protection to your feet.
If you are diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, treatment focuses on controlling your blood sugar level. Oral and topical medications are available to help relieve symptoms, while other medications and treatments are showing promise at returning some of the nerve function and sensations to previously numb areas. Our physicians will determine the best course of treatment.
MLS Laser Therapy
The doctors of Augusta Foot & Ankle also offer Multiwave Locked System (MLS) Laser Therapy. This new and innovative treatment for the chronic and acute pain associated with neuropathy is performed in the office without any discomfort or side effects.
MLS treatment is used to manage an array of foot and ankle pain sources, including Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and other forms of heel pain, bursitis, diabetic neuropathy, and even arthritic conditions.
Put simply, MLS is an FDA-approved technology which uses specific, dual wavelengths and pulsed emissions to decrease pain and inflammation and promote healing on a cellular level. During MLS laser treatment sessions, the laser’s energy penetrates deeply into your soft tissue and reaches damaged cells at the injury site. Once there, this energy stimulates natural healing processes by speeding up cellular reproduction and growth.