Neuropathy and Feet
What to Know About Foot Neuropathy
Neuropathy can affect different part of the body, but neuropathy in the feet is a particularly disruptive and unpleasant condition. Caused by damage to the body’s peripheral nerves, neuropathy can produce pain, tingling, numbness and even complete lack of feeling.
People with neuropathy in their feet often report that just getting out of bed in the morning is a painful task. Peripheral neuropathy in the feet is not only painful and debilitating, but can even be dangerous, since a lack of feeling in the feet may lead to injuries that you are not even aware of.
There are many different causes for neuropathy including infections like shingles, hepatitis C or Guillain-Barre syndrome; injuries, alcoholism, chemotherapy and diabetes (the most common cause); exposure to some toxins and some autoimmune disease. While there is no cure for neuropathy yet, there are ways to treat the pain.
One of the first treatments your doctor may suggest for relief is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. More severe pain may require painkillers like Oxycodone; but because these drugs can lead to chemical dependence they should be used with caution. Anti-seizure medications such as Lyrica or gabapentin can be effective, but they can cause dizziness or drowsiness.
There are some antidepressants that help. And there is a process called TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) in which electrodes placed directly on the foot deliver a mild electric current at varying frequencies.
Acupuncture has been used to help reduce foot pain caused by neuropathy, although it may take several sessions before any improvement is noticeable. Herbs like evening primrose have been reported to help, but make sure to tell your doctor what you are taking since there are some herbs which either interact or interfere with prescription medications.
If you have developed neuropathy in the feet due to diabetes, make sure to check your feet for cuts or blisters and wear padded shoes and lose, soft socks to alleviate extra pressure on the soles of the foot.
Try to include some exercise in your daily regime; after you get the pain under control you might consider a slow, gentle exercise like tai chi or yoga. These will increase your muscle strength and help control your blood sugar – something especially important for diabetics. If you smoke, try to quit; and moderate your alcohol intake. And of course, a fresh, healthy diet is recommended so that you get all the nutrients you need.
Remember, while neuropathy is not yet curable, it is manageable with the right medications and lifestyle changes.