Why Do My Feet Tingle?
Tingling, prickling feet are a common source of discomfort for many of our patients, especially those diagnosed with diabetes.
You see, diabetes usually goes hand-in-hand with peripheral neuropathy, a condition that affects about 20 million Americans today. (So you can see why tingly feet is such a common complaint among our patients!)
Peripheral neuropathy causes damage to the nerves, which in turn impairs communication signals between your feet and brain, making you experience sensations that shouldn’t be there (like tingling and prickling). You can think of this as a “short circuit” in your nervous system.
Now, tingly feet may not seem like much of a concern, but the truth is this is not a problem that will get better on its own. In fact, we recommend you see us for proper diagnosis and treatment right away if you are experiencing these symptoms. Prompt care means we can help you halt or even reverse the nerve damage.
Let’s dive a little deeper …
Know What Peripheral Neuropathy is All About
In order to better understand peripheral neuropathy, it’s important that you first get to know the body’s nervous system. Here’s a quick bio session:
There are many types of nerves in your body. In this case, however, we are discussing the ones that run throughout your entire structure collecting sensory information in order to report any “communication” back to the central nervous system (your spinal column and brain). If you happen to stub your toe, the nerves in that area will report back to your brain painful sensations, for instance.
However, when these nerves become damaged, they can start sending faulty signals to your brain (and as the damage progresses, they will stop sending these signals altogether). Tingling is a common symptom of nerve damage – though others include burning, throbbing, and painful sensations. These symptoms are definitely bad news, but even more concerning is when nerve damage hinders you from feeling your feet at all.
Here’s why …
The Dangers of Peripheral Neuropathy
After suffering from discomfort in your lower limbs for some time, you may think that not being able to feel your feet is somewhat of a blessing – but don’t be mistaken!
Lack of sensation in your lower limbs can leave your more prone to issues, like tiny cuts and sores. For someone with healthy feet, this is certainly not a big deal – these injuries will usually heal themselves without much intervention. But if you can’t feel your feet, you will likely continue to bear weight on the injury and cause it to worsen over time. This increases your risk of developing painful ulcers and infections.
And when diabetes gets thrown into the mix, the risk is even higher. Not only does diabetes hinder the body’s ability to heal wounds fast, circulatory issues (often associated with the condition) prevents the body from fighting off infection effectively. Add all these factors, and you can see why peripheral neuropathy is such a dangerous condition.
If you have diabetic neuropathy, it is essential that you have a diabetic foot care plan in place that contains a daily inspection of your feet. Doing so will allow you to recognize issues at the earliest possible stages and prevent them from becoming critical situations.
The Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
Of course, peripheral neuropathy doesn’t just affect those diagnosed with diabetes. There are other conditions that may also cause this type of nerve damage. They include:
- Infections. Various bacterial or viral infections can affect the nervous system, including Epstein-Barr virus, HIV, Lyme disease, hepatitis C, etc.
- Trauma. Accidents and injuries can crush, pinch, or cut peripheral nerves and create disconnect in the system or result in faulty messages being sent.
- Tumors. Whether cancerous or benign, a tumor that grows on a nerve or presses against one can lead to peripheral neuropathy issues.
- Poor nutrition. A lack of B vitamins, vitamin E, and niacin (among other nutrients) can impair nerve health.
Other diseases, medications, and inherited disorders can also cause peripheral neuropathy.
Now, that you know more about this serious condition, you may be asking yourself how it can be treated. We are glad you asked!
Treating Peripheral Neuropathy
In most cases, the primary goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and manage the condition that caused peripheral neuropathy to develop in the first place.
To help reduce the risk of injury and relieve pain and discomfort, including tingling, we may prescribe medications and recommend various therapies. Laser treatment, corticosteroid injections, and custom orthotics are just a few good options we can provide to you right here at our office.
If the condition is severe, and conservative measures fail to yield any results, surgery may be necessary. These surgeries are especially effective when the root cause of the problem is a compressed nerve.
However, the best thing you can do is to prevent the problem from progressing. This will usually entail making healthy lifestyle choices and managing any underlying conditions. You should still make an appointment at our office so we can diagnose your condition and provide proper treatment. But in the meantime, here are a few steps you can take at home while you wait to come see us:
- If you have diabetes, keep your sugar levels within a healthy, normal range.
- Exercise regularly to keep blood pumping to the feet, help control blood sugar, and relieve neuropathy pain.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- If you smoke, stop – cigarette smoking constricts blood vessels and decreases blood circulation.
And last, but certainly not least, don’t wait to get professional help! The sooner you get proper treatment, the better your chances will be of reversing nerve damage.
Don’t Wait to Get the Help You Need and Deserve!
To finish off with some good news:
If the nerve cell itself is still alive, peripheral nerves do have some ability to regenerate and restore some lost function over a period of time. You should keep in mind, though, that not all nerve damage or neuropathy can be reversed. That’s why it’s so important to seek help early and commit yourself to healthy living!
So give our office a call at (480) 917-2300 to make an appointment today, or simply fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.