Neuropathy: When No Pain Is a Problem

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Neuropathy is nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves on the periphery of your body—like in your hands and feet. At FL Foot Health, this condition is particularly concerning because patients with neuropathy have abnormal sensations or a lack of feeling in their feet. This can lead to serious injury and infection because the pain that normally signals a problem isn’t present.

Causes of Nerve Damage

The most common cause of neuropathy is diabetes with 60-70 percent of patients with diabetes developing this condition. But nerve damage can have other causes, including:

  • Heredity

  • Arthritis

  • Certain medications, including some drugs used for chemotherapy

  • Aging

  • Alcoholism

  • Injury

  • Neurological disorders (such as spina bifida and fibromyalgia)

Taking Precautions

Symptoms of neuropathy include tingling, burning, pins and needles, numbness or sharp, shooting pains in your feet. If these symptoms are new to you, you should contact your podiatrist to get them evaluated. In some cases, this can be the first sign of diabetes. Need help finding a podiatrist? Use our online directory to find a qualified foot doctor near you.

If you have neuropathy, there are certain steps you should take to avoid injury and infection:

  • Avoid walking barefoot. Keeping your feet covered will lower the risk of puncture injuries and cuts and also protect your feet from coming in contact with the viruses and fungi that cause athlete’s foot and warts.

  • Don’t expose your feet to space heaters, electric blankets or open fireplaces—being unable to accurately assess sensations can result in severe burns.

  • Check the water in the tub with your elbow or other body part or have someone check for you before you step in.

  • Wear shoes that have roomy toe boxes and are made of soft, flexible material to avoid blisters and friction which can create sores.

  • Inspect your feet regularly. Look for changes in color, skin rashes, bumps, cuts, bruises, swelling and growth. Report anything unusual to your podiatrist at once.

The podiatrist can help you protect your feet if you have neuropathy. To learn more about this and other podiatric problems, contact us and subscribe to our free e-newsletter.