What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is a condition in which the nerves in our body are damaged or not working correctly and cause symptoms of chronic pain or constant numbness. Approximately 20 million Americans are affected by some sort of peripheral neuropathy. Even though only 30% of neuropathy is found in diabetic patients, diabetes still remains the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is a term used to describe the nerves farthest from the midline of the body such as those nerves in the hands and the feet. Polyneuropathy is a neuropathy pattern, whereby the nerve damage initially starts in both feet and may progress to involve the feet, calves, and fingers/hands. This pattern is often called a “Stocking Glove” type neuropathy. Many patients with polyneuropathy may not even exhibit any symptoms and the diagnosis is made by physical examination or laboratory testing. Some patients with polyneuropathy have only numbness, tingling, and/or a pins and needles type feelings. More often, unlucky patients with polyneuropathy experience some type of pain.

Signs and Symptoms

While every patient’s experience with peripheral neuropathy can be unique, there are some common neuropathy signs and symptoms shared by most individuals. The symptoms of diabetic or peripheral neuropathy start in the toes and feet and in some patients the symptoms gradually rise up the calves and into the knees.

Patients who develop pain with peripheral neuropathy describe the pain as burning, throbbing, a deep ache, raw skin, skin sensitivity, tingling, sharp, electric-like, pins and needles, freezing cold, or like walking on ground glass.

Some patients have no pain but have unpleasant and irritating sensations such as itching, buzzing, like bugs crawling, like leather or sand paper, hard ball on bottom of feet, and aching feelings. Some people feel like they have socks on, even though they are barefoot. Over time, this feeling can spread to the legs and hands. Occasionally, patients may find it harder and harder to walk with their legs feel eventually feeling heavy making it difficult to walk or climb stairs..

Some patients have constant pains, day and night, whereas others only have noticeable pain at bedtime. Often, patients may complain that the pain interferes with their sleep and they may develop Restless Leg Syndrome and or Insomnia (difficulty sleeping). As with all chronic pain, patients with painful peripheral neuropathy may also develop depression. Patients with advanced neuropathy may also have trouble with their sense of positioning; and therefore, have difficulty with their gait or balance.

Diagnosing Peripheral Neuropathy

Most often, a doctor should be able to diagnose peripheral neuropathy solely on a patient’s description of his/her symptoms and a simple neurological examination. A skin biopsy nerve test test is becoming more and more popular to diagnose neuropathy due to it’s ease of performance and very accurate test results. This is a simple in office procedure that is performed before treatment begins. Sometimes, however, a doctor may order special nerve tests, Electromyography (EMG) and or Nerve Conduction Velocity testing (NCV) to help diagnose the extent of neuopathy.

Hugar Foot & Ankle Specialists include board certified podiatric surgeons who specialize in treatment of injuries & diseases of the foot & ankle. Neuropathy treatments are routinely performed in our office based setting. Our facility also includes an outpatient same day surgery center, an on-site X-Ray department, LASER treatments, and physical therapy services.

Patient Appointment Hours

Monday: 10:00am 4:30pm
Tuesday: 1:00pm 5:30pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 1:00pm 5:30pm
Friday: 10:00am 2:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am 11:30am

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Hugar Foot & Ankle Specialists