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When Nerve Endings Cause Foot Pain

Peripheral Neuropathy

Most foot pain comes from damage to the tissues of the foot from excessive mechanical stress and strain. The pain is a result of the nerves sensing the damage to the tissues that they innervate. Sometimes the pain has nothing to do with the mechanical forces and resulting tissue damage. There are conditions that affect the nerves, and just send the painful signals to the brain, despite no damage to the tissues that these nerves innervate. Neuropathy is one form of nerve damage that can commonly cause this type of pain in the feet and legs.

There are different forms of neuropathy. Most affect the tips of the nerve endings furthest from the spine first. This means the toes and fronts of the feet are affected first. The condition classically affect both feet equally. The tops and bottoms of the feet are commonly affected together. These types of Diabetes mainly cause neuropathies. The longer the patient has diabetes and the higher the blood sugar averages, the more likely the patient is to get this. These neuropathy problems can have many other causes. We see them as an inherited condition that shows up later in life. Some drugs from chemotherapy have an effect along with other causes. Frequently no cause is identified despite full testing and evaluation.

Treatment of the problem usually addresses mainly the pain.  Most of the effective medications for this are also used as antidepressant and anti-seizure medicines. The problem has nothing to do with depression or seizures, but affect the nerves in a way that is beneficial to this problem. There are less aggressive measures that can be more effective such as prescription topical creams.  Other treatment options such as infrared light, electrical stimulation and surgical options exist.

If you sense that your foot pain is coming from this condition, it is important to have it evaluated. It often can have a component of nerve damage that lessons the ability to feel touch in the feet. This decreased ability to feel is often not perceived by the patient. If the sense of touch is not intact in the feet, the patient may not be able to detect a problem, such as wounds, unless they are seen.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact our office to make an appointment to get your feet evaluated.

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