Estimated to affect more than 20 million Americans, neuropathy is one of the most common issues podiatrists address. This condition is often linked to other health problems and, without proper treatment, can lead to complications ranging from slow-healing wounds to amputation. Fortunately, skilled podiatric care can help you manage your nerve pain and avoid adverse effects.
At Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center, our knowledgeable and experienced podiatrist, Dr. John (Todd) Cox, DPM, provides comprehensive care for neuropathy, adeptly treating nerve pain with safe and effective methods.
Here's what you should know about neuropathy and how our Central Arizona specialist can help you manage the condition.
Neuropathy and Your Feet
Neuropathy is a form of nerve damage that disrupts normal functioning, making it difficult for the affected nerves to properly transmit signals between the brain, spinal cord, and the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord in extremities like your legs and feet. The resulting "misfiring" of the peripheral nerves can cause uncomfortable or even painful sensations and symptoms, such as:
- Tingling or prickling (sometimes described as "pins and needles")
- Shooting, burning, or throbbing pain
- Sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
You might also feel pain during activities that aren't usually painful or experience a total loss of sensation.
Peripheral Neuropathy Causes and Risk Factors
Peripheral neuropathy has numerous causes. The following health issues can increase your risk for the condition:
- Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Guillain-Barre syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, vasculitis, and Sjogren's syndrome
- Viral or bacterial infections like shingles, Lyme disease, hepatitis B and C, diphtheria, HIV, and leprosy
- Alcohol use disorder
- Injuries, such as from motor vehicle accidents, sports, or falls
- Low levels of B vitamins, copper, or vitamin E
- Metabolic disorders like kidney disease, liver disease, and hypothyroidism
- Medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or those used to treat gout or arrhythmia
- Exposure to toxins like heavy metals or industrial chemicals
- Genetic conditions, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, amyloidosis, and Fabry disease
- Cancerous or noncancerous tumors that grow or press on nerves
How Our Quad Cities Nerve Pain Specialist Diagnoses and Treats Neuropathy
When it comes to peripheral neuropathy, an accurate diagnosis is essential. During the diagnostic process, Dr. Cox thoroughly reviews your medical history and conducts a neurological exam to assess your muscle strength, tendon reflexes, and ability to feel sensations in your feet. He might also order blood tests and nerve function tests like electromyography (EMG), which record the electrical activity of the muscles to detect nerve damage caused by neuropathy or nerve compression.
If you're diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, Dr. Cox will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan designed to reduce your nerve pain and prevent additional nerve damage. Depending on your unique needs and his recommendations, treatment might include:
- Pain relievers
- Anti-seizure medication
- Topical treatments
- Physical therapy
- Custom orthotics or prescribed footwear
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Plasma exchange
Dr. Cox prioritizes non-surgical treatments whenever possible. However, when nerve pain stems from pressure caused by a tumor or bone spur, a surgical solution might offer the best chances for recovery.
The Importance of Having a Podiatrist on Your Health Care Team
Without comprehensive treatment, which may include controlling an underlying condition like diabetes, peripheral neuropathy can cause many life-altering complications. For example, losing sensation in your feet can make it difficult to notice when you've injured them, creating the potential for minor issues to become serious problems that can lead to gangrene or amputation. Regular visits with an experienced podiatrist who treats neuropathy can help protect your feet.
Schedule an Appointment With Our Podiatric Nerve Pain Expert
Are you experiencing nerve pain or other signs of neuropathy in your feet? Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center can help. Contact us online or text our office at 928-445-4898 to request an appointment with Dr. Cox. Located in Prescott, we serve Quad City area patients ages four and up.