Peripheral Neuropathy and your Feet | Studio Podiatry | Podiatrist & Orthotics | Camp Hill, Brisbane 4152

What is it?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves that transmit signals from your brain and spinal cord to your extremities. With increasing age some reduction in neurological function can be expected. However, disease processes such as those that occur with chronic health conditions (i.e. diabetes) may have a more significant impact. Neuropathic related changes are commonly more pronounced in the lower limb. 

Diminished sensation in the lower limb predisposes you to a greater risk of undetected injury/ diabetic foot ulceration. It can also negatively affect your gait and increase your risk of falls due reduced balance and proprioception.  

What are the symptoms 

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can be varied and dependant on the severity of the condition. The most common presenting complaints that patients describe are:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling 
  • Burning
  • Aching
  • Muscle weakness of the extremities 

Why did I get it?

The cause behind peripheral neuropathy can be genetic or acquired. The most common risk factors that patients present with are: 

  • Diabetes (the most common cause) 
  • Genetic disorders
  • Nutritional deficiencies 
  • Side-effect of medication 
  • Physical trauma (e.g. car accident) 
  • Alcoholism 

How is it diagnosed?

A thorough history/ clinical examination will detect peripheral nerve damage and the location/s where it is occuring. Your podiatrist will undertake neurological assessments that will ascertain: 

  • Quality of reflexes
  • Muscle strength and control
  • Balance and proprioception 
  • Ability to detect vibration 
  • Ability to detect pressure  

How can I treat it?

  • Conduct regular neurological assessments with your podiatrist (frequency of these assessments is dependant on your risk status) 
  • Daily foot checks to improve overall foot health, reducing potential risk factors such as corns/ callus
  • Education regarding supplements and medications that are available to reduce neuropathic pains 
  • Correct biomechanical risk factors 
  • Appropriate treatment of cuts, wounds and ulcers as soon as they occur 

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