Peripheral Neuropathy— Why Your Feet Feel Numb


By Matthew H. Paden, DPM

Ever sit cross-legged for too long on the floor and get a bad case of pins-and-needles? You know how disoriented you can feel when you don’t have normal sensations in your feet and legs. You need to wait through the prickliness and pain until they feel like part of your body again instead of wooden blocks. Now imagine what it would be like if the symptoms didn’t go away, and you’d have an idea of what peripheral neuropathy feels like.

Why Feet Feel Numb

How nerve damage affects your feetYour nerves are like a fiber optic cables running through your body, connecting your mainframe computer (brain) with all the terminals at the periphery (legs, feet, toes). Your brain collects data from each terminal, analyzes it, and then sends back the results so the muscles in your extremities know what to do next.

If a fiber optic cable frays, it can malfunction. The terminals send faulty signals—or none at all—and things don’t work right. This is what happens when your nerves become damaged. They don’t sense what is happening in your feet properly, and your brain can’t make sense of the signals they send. You end up feeling sensations of numbness, pinpricks, and shooting pains which may have no real basis in fact.

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Neuropathy is the result of nerve damage, which can happen for many reasons. You may know that conditions like diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis can lead to this condition, but there are several other possible causes, too. As you can see, the list is quite varied:

  • Infections, including Lyme disease, hepatitis C, shingles, diphtheria, and others
  • Medications, such as chemotherapy, can damage the nerves
  • Inherited disorders like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Bone marrow diseases like lymphoma or cancer
  • Vitamin deficiencies from poor diet
  • Alcoholism, because it is related to poor eating habits and diet
  • Tumors on the nerve itself of in nearby tissue that presses on it
  • Accidents and traumas that damage the nerves.
  • Poisons and toxins that destroy nerve tissue
  • Kidney, liver, or thyroid problems

What to Do for Pain and Numbness in Your Feet

Start with a visit to one of our offices in the west Denver area. Dr. Matthew Paden, Dr. Brett D. Sachs, and Dr. Dustin Kruse are the area’s nerve specialists. We will learn your medical history and do blood tests, a neurological examination, and/or nerve function tests to gather information for a specific diagnosis. Once we determine the underlying cause for your peripheral neuropathy, we can start designing the right treatments for it.

If the pain is severe we can order prescription strength pain relievers, but we may prescribe anti-seizure medications, anti-depressants, or capsaicin as well. We may also try physical therapy or other techniques. If pressure on a nerve is the cause of your discomfort, we may need to relieve it surgically. Rest assured, we have a well-deserved reputation for nerve surgery and perform it to the highest medical standards.

Home Remedies to Help with Neuropathy

You can help by taking your medications and eating a proper diet that helps you manage underlying diseases like diabetes and others. Avoid alcohol as much as possible, and quit smoking as well, because smoking inhibits the circulation that helps your nerves stay healthy. Exercise is also helpful in reducing pain from this condition. Walking, yoga, and tai chi are all gentle ways to strengthen your muscles and keep blood levels under control.

For more information about nerve damage and what you can do to heal from it, contact Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center to schedule an appointment soon at our Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO, offices. The phone number is (303) 423-2520, or you can use our contact us form to set one up. We look forward to helping you relieve your nerve pain and start enjoying life again.

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