Peripheral Neuropathy 

Peripheral neuropathy, a common yet often overlooked condition, can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. If left undiagnosed or untreated, it can lead to debilitating pain and permanent nerve damage. 

On this page, we will educate you about peripheral neuropathy, its symptoms, causes, and its link to diabetes. We will also discuss preventive measures and treatment options, and provide compelling reasons for you to schedule an appointment with our offices to address your peripheral neuropathy concerns.

lady checking feet Neuropathy

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to a range of disorders affecting the peripheral nervous system, which consists of nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord. These nerves are responsible for transmitting messages between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. When peripheral nerves are damaged, disrupted, or dysfunctional, it can cause various symptoms, impacting muscle movement, sensation, and even internal organ function.

If you have peripheral neuropathy in your feet, it is vital to have your feet checked regularly by a podiatrist to protect against wounds or problems that might occur on your feet and ankles. Due to the lack of feeling peripheral neuropathy usually has with it, many people miss problems with their feet until it is too late and the problem has become a severe one.

What are the Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can vary depending on the type of nerves affected – motor, sensory, or autonomic – and the extent of nerve damage. Some common symptoms include:

  • Tingling, numbness, or a “pins and needles” sensation in the hands and feet.
  • Sharp, stabbing, or burning pain.
  • Muscle weakness, cramps, or twitching.
  • Loss of coordination and balance.
  • Sensitivity to touch.
  • Heat or cold intolerance.
  • Changes in skin, hair, or nail appearance.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Digestive problems, such as constipation or diarrhea.
  • Excessive sweating or inability to regulate body temperature.
Doctor examining  feet

What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy can result from various factors and conditions, including:

  • Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage nerves, making diabetes the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome can lead to nerve damage.
  • Infections: Viruses like herpes simplex, Epstein-Barr, and Lyme disease can attack peripheral nerves.
  • Trauma or pressure on nerves: Accidents, injuries, or repetitive stress can cause nerve damage.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: Deficiencies in vitamins B12, B6, and E can contribute to peripheral neuropathy.
  • Genetic disorders: Certain inherited conditions, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can cause nerve damage.
  • Medications: Some medications, including chemotherapy drugs, can lead to peripheral neuropathy.
  • Alcoholism: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to nerve damage and nutritional deficiencies.
  • Tumors: Growths or cancerous masses can compress or infiltrate peripheral nerves.
Neuropathy in foot

How is Diabetes Linked to Peripheral Neuropathy?

Approximately 50% of people with diabetes develop peripheral neuropathy. The link between diabetes and this condition can be attributed to high blood sugar levels, which cause damage in several ways.

Firstly, elevated glucose levels can harm the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to peripheral nerves, impairing their function. Secondly, high blood sugar can interfere with nerve cell signaling and cause inflammation, further contributing to nerve damage. Lastly, diabetes can lead to reduced blood flow and impaired nerve function due to peripheral artery disease (PAD), exacerbating peripheral neuropathy symptoms.


neuropathy pain

How Can I Prevent Peripheral Neuropathy?

While not all cases of peripheral neuropathy can be prevented, adopting specific lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk:

  • Manage underlying conditions: Control blood sugar levels if you have diabetes and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for managing other chronic conditions.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly those that support nerve health.
  • Exercise regularly: Engage in physical activity to improve blood circulation, maintain a healthy weight, and manage stress.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Avoid excessive alcohol intake, as it can contribute to nerve damage.
  • Protect your nerves: Take precautions to avoid injuries and repetitive stress.


Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy

Treatment options for peripheral neuropathy depend on the underlying cause and may include:

  • Medications: Pain relievers, anti-seizure medications, and antidepressants are commonly prescribed to alleviate pain and discomfort. Topical treatments, such as capsaicin cream or lidocaine patches, may also be used to manage localized pain.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help improve muscle strength, coordination, and balance through targeted exercises and stretching routines. Assistive devices, such as braces or custom orthotics, may be recommended for better mobility and to prevent further injury.
  • Lifestyle changes: Maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking can all help improve nerve health and reduce symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
  • Nerve stimulation: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or spinal cord stimulation may be used to manage pain by delivering mild electrical currents to the affected nerves, altering pain signals sent to the brain.

By working closely with our team, a personalized treatment plan can be developed to address your specific needs and symptoms. This comprehensive approach ensures the best possible outcome for managing the condition and improving your quality of life.

Neuropathy Foot Pain
Barefoot woman checks her feet for diabetic foot care

Get Professional Help for Peripheral Neuropathy

If you are experiencing symptoms of peripheral neuropathy or have concerns about the nerve health in your feet, it is crucial to seek professional help from our team. Early diagnosis and intervention can prevent further nerve damage and effectively manage your condition.

During your consultation, our team will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms, and perform a physical examination. We may also conduct additional tests to determine the underlying cause of your neuropathy. Once diagnosed, our team will discuss potential treatment options with you, so that we can address the root cause and focus on your symptom management.

Seeking our professional help for your peripheral neuropathy is an essential step towards improving your overall quality of life and preventing potential complications. Contact us today to discuss your concerns and begin your journey towards better nerve health. You can call us at (816) 455-1155 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your appointment.