Let’s talk about Neuropathy

Imagine you are just settling in for the night with your favorite TV show playing or a new book and suddenly your feet start to get numb and tingly; this could be a sign of Peripheral Neuropathy. 

What is neuropathy?

Neuropathy is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves that results in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain in one or more areas of the body. Neuropathy typically begins in the hands and feet, but can occur in other parts of the body as well.

Often called ‘peripheral neuropathy’, neuropathy indicates that there is an issue in your peripheral nervous system. This is the network of nerves outside of your brain and spinal cord. Neuropathy happens when these nerve cells (neurons) are damaged or destroyed, disrupting the way that your nerve cells and brain communicate.

What does neuropathy feel like?

The most common feelings associated with neuropathy are numbness, tingling (“pins and needles”), and weakness in the area of the body affected (i.e. your hands or your feet). You may also experience other sensations such as sharp, lightning-like pain or a burning or throbbing pain. More symptoms include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Falling, loss of coordination
  • Not being able to feel things in your feet and/or hands: i.e. like you’re wearing socks/gloves at all times.
  • Muscle weakness, twitch, cramps, and/or spasms
  • Inability to move part of your body (paralysis), loss of muscle control
  • Low blood pressure or abnormal heart rate
  • Sweating too much or not enough in relation to temperature or degree of exertion
  • Unintentional weight loss

How common is neuropathy?

Very common. An estimated 25%-30% of Americans experience neuropathy. While this condition can affect people of any age it is more prevalent in older adults.

Who is most at risk?

The highest risk factors for neuropathy are:

  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity)
  • Heavy alcohol use

People in certain professions that require repetitive motions are also at risk for the development of neuropathy due to trauma or compression of nerves. Some neuropathies develop slowly, over months or years, while others develop rapidly and continue to quickly get worse.

What can West Michigan Foot and Ankle do for you?

Dr. Squires will complete a full history and physical exam, including reviewing your symptoms and asking questions about your current and past medications, history of trauma, line of work and social habits, family history of diseases, and your diet. A neurologic exam will then be performed to check your coordination, balance, muscle strength and tone, and your ability to feel sensations such as light touch or proprioception. After a complete history and examination we will then discuss your treatment options.


Make your appointment today.

Same day appointments are available.

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