How Neuropathy Affects Your Feet

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Tingling, burning, or weakness in your feet are signs you may have peripheral neuropathy.

What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy means “disease of the nervous system.” So right away, you know that it’s a problem with your nerves. Which nerves? That’s where the term “peripheral” comes in. It refers to all nerves not located in the brain or spinal cord (that’s the “central nervous system”). If our podiatrists tell you you’ve got peripheral neuropathy, we’re saying the nerves in your feet are damaged.

It’s not great news. Peripheral neuropathy may affect the sensory nerves – those that send messages to the brain that your feet feel hot or cold or that you just stepped on a sharp object and cut yourself. If the damage is to some motor nerves, the muscles in your feet may become weak; you may have trouble controlling how your feet move. Damage to both kinds of nerves at the same time is possible.

What causes peripheral neuropathy?
One of the biggest causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. A whopping 60%-70% of people with diabetes will also develop neuropathy. Some other reasons people get nerve damage in their feet include cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol use, trauma to the feet, an infection, and some autoimmune disorders.

Is there any good news?
Yes! You can help prevent neuropathy by controlling your blood sugar if you have diabetes, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.

Some cases of neuropathy may resolve on their own. You can control other cases and slow down their progression through medications, other therapies, and lifestyle changes.

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