Understanding the Dangers of Neuropathy

by | Apr 20, 2016 | Neuropathy

You may not give much thought to your nervous system, even though it is remarkable how the body receives various forms of stimuli (external or internal) and then responds in an appropriate fashion. This happens via an internal communication system that is lightning quick…if everything is working correctly. When an issue like peripheral neuropathy is in the picture, it becomes a much different story. We treat many conditions at The Kansas Foot Center, but this is one of the more concerning, particularly for diabetic patients.

Neuropathy refers to damaged peripheral nerves that either send faulty messages or fail to communicate with the brain altogether. Though it is a common complication of diabetes, other causes of nerve damage include exposure to toxins, infections, tumors, alcoholism, vitamin deficiencies, and autoimmune diseases or inherited disorders.

The symptoms of neuropathy include sharp, burning, or tingling pain, muscle paralysis or weakness, and impaired coordination. These can all affect the quality of life for an affected individual, but peripheral neuropathy becomes even more risky when it causes numbness and inability to experience pain in the feet.

Given their distance from the eyes (and the fact they are often covered with socks and shoes), feet are some of the least visible parts of the body. This means it is incredibly important for peripheral nerves to properly convey messages when a problem arises in the lower body. It is bad enough for an otherwise healthy individual to be unaware of damage, but it becomes outright dangerous for diabetic individuals.

A cut, scrape, or any other kind of wound can lead to a skin breakdown known as a diabetic ulcer. Left untreated, ulcers can eventually lead to gangrene – tissue death that often requires amputation. This is actually the most common cause of limb amputation for people who have diabetes.

Another major risk with diabetic neuropathy is Charcot foot. In this condition, weakened foot bones break, but neuropathy prevents you from knowing so you keep using it, which leads to greater damage. The cycle repeats over time until the foot becomes quite deformed.

The potential dangers posed by neuropathy is a big reason diabetic foot care is absolutely essential if you have the disease. The Kansas Foot Center can help you create a foot care plan to help keep you safe. We can also provide treatment for symptoms of the condition, whether diabetes is present or not. Call us at (866) 222-5177 or schedule an appointment online for our Wichita, Newton, or Emporia, KS offices today.