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The nervous system sends essential information back and forth between the brain and all parts of the body. This allows it to control and regulate every aspect of your body’s function. Your ability to move, sense pain, balance and breathe are just a few examples.

The peripheral nervous system refers to the network of nerves outside the central nervous system (brain and spine). These nerves have many functions, but podiatrists are particularly concerned with those affecting your legs, feet and toes.

In certain situations, these nerves can become damaged, and this has serious consequences for your lower limbs.

What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?

These vary depending on which nerves are damaged, but it can be some or all of the following:

  • A burning sensation.
  • Tingling or pins and needles.
  • Heightened sensitivity to touch – even a light touch can be painful.
  • Numbness, which you probably won’t even notice.

It’s likely the discomfort will start in your toes. Over time it can creep up your leg and other problems can easily follow – muscle weakness, pain, trouble with balance or movement, calluses, corns and infections.

What Causes the Condition?

The main culprit is diabetes – a condition which arises when the body is unable to properly control blood sugar levels. High blood sugar leads to poor circulation and nerve damage which impairs the ability of the nervous system to work properly.

Other issues that can lead to peripheral neuropathy.

  • Nerve damage due to accident or injury.
  • Medication – chemotherapy drugs or statins can cause neuropathy.
  • Pernicious anaemia (severe vitamin B12 deficiency).
  • Chronic conditions such as arthritis.
  • Excess alcohol damages nerves and reduces vitamin levels which are needed for good nerve health.

What Are the Implications for Your Feet?

Loss of sensation is a big concern. Minor issues such as cuts, splinters, bleeding, burns or any other injuries can go unnoticed until infection sets in. Then you have much bigger problems.

Undetected pressure points can cause ulcers, calluses and corns whilst fungal conditions such as athlete’s foot can go undetected until they’re really painful. In severe cases of infection, it’s even possible for gangrene to set in, which could lead to amputation.

Living with Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy can’t be cured but it can certainly be managed. There are several common-sense steps you can take.

Improve Your Diet: Cutting down on sugar, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising to improve balance and muscle strength will help considerably.

Hygiene and Maintenance: Check your feet every day to help you spot small issues before they get worse. Wash and dry your feet carefully and keep your toenails neatly trimmed. Ask your podiatrist to cut your nails if you have any foot problems – especially if you’re diabetic.

Footwear: Your shoes should provide cushioning and support without being too tight or too loose. This helps to prevent calluses and sores.

Medication: Ask your doctor to review your medication. It may be possible to change to something less damaging for your nerves – depending on your condition. They can also prescribe pain relievers as appropriate.

Care and Support at Feet By Pody

Your podiatrist can provide essential support if you suffer from any form of peripheral neuropathy in your lower limbs. Regular check-ups at one of our London clinics will keep your feet comfortable and infection-free. We can also help with footwear advice and will guide you through manageable exercises to improve mobility and strength.

At Feet By Pody, our expert podiatrists have years of experience in diabetic foot assessment and ongoing care and support.

Contact Feet By Pody today