Dr. Anthony DeMaria - Greater Cincinnati and Northern, KY Podiatrist
When you hear the words “peripheral neuropathy”, it is often synonymous with the terms “numbness and tingling” to the feet. The truth is, this term can relate to a number of different, abnormal sensations to the ankles and feet (aching, stabbing, gripping, burning, sense of pressure, etc) , and there are many causes that can lead to this condition. Because there are many causes, it stands to reason that there are many treatments for this problem. The key is finding out what is causing the neuropathy, and once that is determined, then the treatment can be rendered to try and reverse the symptoms, if it’s not too late. Some neuropathies are reversible, but some unfortunately are not.
The causes of peripheral neuropathy can span several different etiologies, including medical, genetic, environmental, infectious, chemical, mechanical / traumatic, and pharmacological. Sometimes the causes involved will overlap. Let’s look at some of the various causes that can lead to this condition.
Diabetes Mellitus, Stroke, Hypothyroidism, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Kidney Failure / Dialysis, Vitamin Deficiency, Radiculopathy / spinal problems – “pinched nerve” in your back resulting in abnormal sensations to feet.
Autoimmune Diseases and Inflammatory Conditions:
Lupus, Guillain Barre, Rheumatoid arthritis
Pharmacologic Causes: (medications that can lead to neuropathy symptoms)
Phenytoin, Amiodarone, Metronidazole. Hydralazine, Chemotherapeutic agents used in treating cancers, Cholchicine, Ciprofloxacin & Levofloxacin, Medications to treat HIV, Some medications used in treating high cholesterol (statins)
Lyme disease, Hepatitis, Shingles, AIDs
Exposure to toxins – lead, mercury, arsenic, insecticides, certain glues, certain fuels, certain herbicides (Agent Orange used in the Viet Nam war, etc.
Tarsal Tunnel syndrome – similar to carpal tunnel in the wrists, but located in to the ankles and feet.
Also known as “idiopathic”, which means we know you have the symptoms, but cannot determine the cause. These types of neuropathy can often have a hereditary or genetic component to them.
Diseases that mimic peripheral neuropathy: Peripheral vascular disease, athletes’ foot infections
What doctors treat this condition?
Most all doctors are knowledgeable of peripheral neuropathy, and the various doctors that treat the condition include (bur are not limited to) your primary care doctor, podiatrist, orthopedic surgeon, endocrinologist, rheumatologist, neurologist, and chronic pain specialist.
When should you see a doctor regarding symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?
- When your symptoms progressively worsen or won’t go away
- Cause you to stumble or keeps you from walking well
- Coloration / texture changes that develop to your skin (redness, swelling, blistering, darkening skin, etc)
* Sensations accompanied by a headache, tingling in your face, or sudden weakness: You need to get immediate medical attention. These may be signs of a stroke, which can be life threatening.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition with a vast array of causes and treatment options, the content of which is too great for the purposes of this website to really provide a good assessment on the nature of this disease. If you want to learn more about this condition, I recommend visiting the following websites; they are very good and offer a more comprehensive review on the subject:
- The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
- The Mayo Clinic – Peripheral Neuropathy
- Neuropathy Action Foundation
Call Ability Foot & Ankle at (859) 746-3668 to schedule an appointment to discuss peripheral neuropathy.