Peripheral neuropathy is a common neurological disorder caused by damage of the peripheral nerves. This can be caused by systemic disease or direct injury to these nerves. Neuropathies are usually slowly progressive and irreversible, although some may have a full recovery with little residual effects. Without any treatment or diagnosis of the cause there will likely be further complications.
The main symptom of peripheral neuropathy is a partial or complete loss of sensation. This can occur anywhere from the tips of the toes to the entire foot, ankle, and leg in the lower extremity. An ulcer may exist if a wound goes unnoticed from having peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathies can also sometimes be described as burning, prickling, tickling, or tingling sensations. These sensations are usually termed parasthesias. Any new neuropathy of the foot or ankle should be evaluated by your podiatrist.
The causes of neuropathy can be from many well known diseases such as diabetes, uremia, AIDS, or nutritional deficiencies. Diabetes is the most common of these causes. A mechanical cause can also exist as the nerves may have direct injury from impact. For instance fractures, contusions, lacerations, and dislocations. There can be extra pressure placed on nerves from scar tissue, tumors, hemorrhages, or acute swelling. A common example of an entrapment neuropathy is the carpal tunnel syndrome, or as in the foot, tarsal tunnel syndrome. Many neuropathies are of unknown causes.
Podiatric Care greatly depends upon the cause. In patients with diabetes the treatment is aimed at prevention and treating the diabetes. If a compressive force is causing the neuropathy the treatment is aimed at removing this force.