for health professionals
neuropathy is the general term that refers to disorders
of peripheral nerves. The peripheral nervous system is made up of
the nerves that branch out of the spinal cord to different parts
of the body.
Peripheral neuropathy is a relatively
common neurological disorder that results from damage to the peripheral
nerves. It can be caused by a number of diseases of the nerves or
be the result of systemic illnesses. Many of the peripheral neuropathy's
have a well established cause such as diabetes, alcoholism, uremia,
AIDs, or nutritional deficiencies. Diabetes is, by far, one of the
most common causes of peripheral neuropathy. Other less common causes
include exposure to cold or radiation, a few medicines, toxic substances,
vascular or collagen disorders, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma
and rheumatoid arthritis.
of peripheral neuropathy:
nervous system consists of motor (to help move) nerves and sensory
(to help feel) nerves. Either or both sets of nerves can be affected
If a sensory
nerve is damaged, the predominant symptoms are pain, numbness, tingling,
burning or a loss of feeling. They often begin gradually. There
may be a tingling sensation or numbness that starts in the toes
and/or the balls of the feet and spreads upward. Occasionally the
skin may become so sensitive that the slightest touch is agonizing.
There may also may be a numbness, or a complete lack of feeling
in the feet. At times the symptoms may be barely noticeable and
at other times, especially at night, they may be almost unbearable.
The symptoms may also include a sensation that you're wearing an
invisible glove or sock; a burning or freezing pain; sharp, jabbing
or electric pain; and an extreme sensitivity to touch.
motor nerves are damaged there may be a weakness or paralysis of
the muscles controlled by the affected nerve(s). In the foot their
may be a 'wasting' of the muscles as they do not work as well as
neuropathy deserves special mention as it is the most common type
and can lead to serious complications in those with diabetes. Diabetic
peripheral neuropathy means damage of nerve fibres in people with
diabetes. The process by which the nerves are damaged is not entirely
clear but it is probably related to high blood glucose changes that
affect the metabolism of nerve cells.
There are three types
of diabetic peripheral neuropathy:
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
can result in two types of problems:
there can be a loss of ability to feel pain
and other sensations - this puts the foot at risk of being damaged
and not knowing about it
there can be symptoms of pain and burning
leading to discomfort (painful neuropathy).
of peripheral neuropathy:
treatment for peripheral neuropathy will differ, depending on the
cause. For example, if it is caused by diabetes the therapy involves
better control of the diabetes. If it is caused by a vitamin deficiency,
then supplementation will help.
such as pain relievers and tricyclic antidepressants are often helpful.
the treatment for peripheral neuropathy is unsatisfactory and often
only symptomatic relief is available. Some of these include transcutaneous
electrical nerve stimulation, acupuncture and biofeedback.
of the foot in peripheral neuropathy:
As a loss of sensation (numbness)
is common in peripheral neuropathy, damage to the foot can go undetected
and lead to serious complications (especially in those who also
have diabetes). It is best to protect the foot with good fitting
and the foot should be inspected daily for damage.
Particular attention should be paid to corns
, as these may need treatment by a podiatrist
highly recommended book for those with peripheral neuropathy:***
|Numb Toes and Aching
Soles: Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy
relevance to peripheral neuropathy:
a Podiatrist here
on foot problems
a question in the Foot Health Forum about peripheral neuropathy
care products to help with peripheral neuropathy:
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ePodiatry is purely
a source of information on peripheral neuropathy and should at no
time be considered as replacing the expertise of a health professional.
We recommend seeking professional advice for peripheral neuropathy
and all foot problems before embarking on any form of self treatment
or management for peripheral neuropathy. Neither the content or
any other service provided through ePodiatry is intended to be relied
on for medical diagnosis or treatment. Do not delay in seeking health
professional advice for peripheral neuropathy because of something
seen on ePodiatry.
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