Is Nerve Pain Slowing You Down? (If So, We Can Help!)
Losing feeling in any part of your body can be stressful and frightening. These emotions are further compounded when your feet become numb. In addition to having to determine the source of the problem, you may fear you will lose your mobility as well.
Finding an expert who understands the intricacies of nerve damage in the lower limbs and offers real solutions can bring peace of mind, though.
You can find the care and treatment you need here at Wilks Advanced Foot Care. We will diagnose your nerve condition and provide the treatment and care you need, possibly with nerve decompression procedures (when necessary).
Peripheral Neuropathy (Nerve Damage) and Nerve Compression
We all rely on an extensive network of nerves running throughout our bodies that serve to not only keep us alive, but also to appreciate the world around us. Nerves give us the ability to see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. These experiences enrichen our lives and keep us safe.
When nerves are damaged, they can take away those abilities. More than that, there are times when nerve damage causes usual, painful sensations.
There are various causes of neuropathy (nerve damage), which makes this a fairly common problem for many people.
Whereas neuropathy is commonly associated with diabetes—and rightfully so given that 60-70 percent of diabetic individuals will have nerve damage during their lifetime—there are several other potential sources, including:
- Alcoholism – This can be attributed to the malnutrition seen in many alcoholic individuals.
- Certain medications – Some chemotherapy drugs, for example, have nerve damage as a potential side effect.
- Heredity – Family history and genetic disposition sometimes lead to peripheral neuropathy.
- Injury – Acute injuries sometimes damage peripheral nerves and cause problems.
- Arthritis – There are many forms of arthritis, and neuropathy can be caused by certain ones.
- Neurological disorders – Conditions like fibromyalgia and spina bifida increase the risk factor of this issue.
Nerves that are affected by swelling or compression are often the result of a tumor or inflammation of the area around the nerve. In the feet, we commonly see patients who are experiencing the effects of Morton’s neuroma or tarsal tunnel syndrome. In both cases, the affected nerve is under extreme pressure.
Neuropathy can be concerning anywhere it happens in the body, but nerve damage in the feet is particularly concerning for a couple of reasons.
First, your feet endure tremendous force loads on a daily basis and are at heightened risk for injury and various medical conditions.
Second, your feet are generally not particularly visible. We keep our lower limbs covered in socks and shoes, plus they are the furthest points on the body from our eyes. This means you have to be vigilant to catch those issues that can become medical emergencies!
As varied as the causes of neuropathy, the symptoms of this condition span from weak muscles to extreme pain, with many individuals having a combination of various symptoms. Frequently, those affected with nerve damage experience some loss of feeling.
Conservative Treatment Options
Treatment for neuropathy has many different forms, but typically serves to accomplish one of two objectives – relieve symptoms and manage whichever condition has led to the nerve damage.
Traditional, nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Medications – Mild symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, but prescription painkillers are sometimes used for more severe symptoms. Other medications that may be used in treating nerve damage include antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and creams containing capsaicin.
- Physical therapy – This form of therapy is sometimes used in instances where muscle weakness is due to damaged nerves and can help improve the ability to move.
- Injections – Depending on your particular case, we may prescribe corticosteroid injections to relieve painful symptoms.
Nerve Decompression Surgery
We will start by determining which nerve in your lower extremity is causing your pain, and then consider all possible conservative treatment options first. However, it may be determined that surgery is simply the best course of action to relieve pressure on the nerve and restore your nerve function in your feet.
Nerve decompression surgery is actually a broad category of procedures, but each has the same end goal—fully-functioning, pain-free feet.
During the procedure, we will work to preserve the nerve by expanding the area around it. Medically speaking, this is called a “release.” The name makes sense, because the nerve is literally being released from the pressure that has resulted in your symptoms.
In the case of tarsal tunnel syndrome surgery, for example, the tarsal tunnel which houses the tibial nerve, is cleared. This allows the nerve to do its job without interference from its surroundings.
This surgical intervention is typically done as an outpatient procedure. The incision is small, but you will need to stay off of your feet during the week after surgery. Plan to rest at home with your foot elevated during that time, and then proceed with caution until you are cleared for normal activity.
As with any surgery, there are some risks, and following the detailed postoperative plan is your best bet for a full and speedy recovery. Cutting corners on the prescribed rest and care could result in further need for treatment.
The Best Options for Restoring Feeling in Your Feet
Your feet are the foundation of everything you do, so proper foot care and treatment is essential for your ability to do both necessary and favorite activities. If you are experiencing numbness, tingling pain, or any other concerning symptoms, come and see us so we can create your customized treatment plan to keep you safe and get you back to your favorite activities!
Simply contact our team at Wilks Advanced Foot Care by calling (541) 673-0742. We will provide additional information or help you schedule an appointment with our Roseburg, OR office so you can receive the treatment you need.