Don’t Ignore Loss of Feeling in Your Feet
If you’ve noticed odd sensations in your feet and toes such as burning or tingling or a decrease in sensation or the ability to feel at all, you may have peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral nerves are the ones at the periphery of your body—essentially your fingertips and toes or feet. Neuropathy is another word for nerve damage. At NY Foot Health we want patients to be aware of what changes in their feet can mean and encourage you to have your feet evaluated when you notice something unusual going on.
Dangers of Neuropathy
If you have less feeling in your feet, you may not notice when an injury has occurred or a rash or blister is forming. For patients with diabetes—one of the major causes of peripheral neuropathy—this can mean precious time is lost before treatment is started on a wound. That can have dire medical consequences. Diabetic patients are slower to heal and at a greater risk for amputation.
But even if you are not diabetic, loss of sensation in your feet can increase your risk of falls, burns, infections, fractures, puncture wounds and other injuries.
What’s the Cause?
Neuropathy can be associated with a number of different conditions, including:
Advanced age—peripheral neuropathy is more common as people age
Heredity—there can be a genetic tendency for this problem
Certain medications, including some chemotherapy drugs
Neurological disorders—conditions such as spina bifida and fibromyalgia are associated with peripheral neuropathy
Injury to the nerves
What Can be Done
There is no known cure for peripheral neuropathy. Your podiatrist will work with you to slow the progression of the disease and to make sure that your feet stay as healthy as possible. (Need a podiatrist? Find one here.) Some important measures you’ll want to take if you have peripheral neuropathy are:
Inspect your feet regularly (or have someone do for you) to make sure there are no cuts, injuries or skin conditions
Wear shoes that fit properly and are not too tight or rubbing anywhere on your feet
Do not use electric blankets or expose your feet to direct heat
Check the temperature of bath water with your hand or elbow before stepping in