Peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nerves) is a relatively common problem caused by a wide range of underlying diseases and conditions. Perhaps the most common cause is diabetes with approximately 50-60% of all people with diabetes being affected to some degree. Other conditions that can cause peripheral neuropathy include autoimmune disorders eg. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, infections such as Lyme disease and Shingles, Vitamin B deficiencies, alcoholism, kidney failure, hereditary diseases like Charcot-Marie-Tooth, trauma to the nerve and certain toxic substances such as organic pesticides and chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment. There is also a percentage of cases with no known cause.
Signs and symptoms include: numbness, tingling, pins and needles, burning sensation or freezing pain, muscle weakness, cramps and muscle spasms, unusual sweating, sensation of wearing an invisible sock, nausea, vomiting, loss of co-ordination, sharp stabbing pain, changes in heart rate and blood pressure. If you have one or more of these symptoms it is a good idea to have one of our qualified podiatrists conduct a full neurological assessment to ascertain which of the 3 nerve pathways have been affected.
Motor nerves control movement so your podiatrist will conduct muscle strength, co-ordination and balance tests.
Sensory nerves give feedback on touch, temperature and pressure. Testing includes using a tuning fork to measure vibratory sensation, monofilament detection to test pressure, and sharp/dull or two point discrimination to test touch.
Autonomic nerves control sweating, blood pressure, heart rate and adrenalin response so reflexes are tested and a thorough history is taken to see if this nerve pathway is affected.
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