Neuropathy of the Foot in South Florida
Foot Pain Specialties
Neuropathy is damage to the nerves, which can occur in one nerve (mononeuropathy), multiple nerves in one location (polyneuropathy), or several nerves in different locations (multiple mononeuropathy). There are three types of nerves, sensory (heat or pain), motor, and autonomic. The most commonly damaged nerves in the foot are the nerves connected to the toes. Nerve damage causes numbness, burning, swelling, and tingling. These feelings begin at the location of the nerve damage and can spread throughout the whole foot and up the leg. Numbness can cause a lack of coordination during movement. Decreased coordination during walking can lead to blisters, cuts, or calluses on their feet. Damage to the motor nerves can cause muscle weakening and even paralysis.
Anatomy of the Foot
Three sections, the forefoot, midfoot, and hindfoot, form the structure of the foot. The forefoot section includes the phalanges (toes), five metatarsal bones, and two sesamoid bones. The metatarsal bones are long bones that connect to the phalanges to create five metatarso-phalangeal joints and to the tarsal bones of the midfoot to create five tarsal-metarasal joints. Two large bones, the talus and the calcaneus, form the hindfoot. The tarsal bone forms the heel; the calcaneus rotates upon the top of the talus, which creates the pivoting motion of the ankle.
The main functions of the foot are to bear weight during movement and propulsion. There are three arches in the foot, which support the large amount of weight placed on the foot. The bones of the three arches are surrounded by ligaments, muscles, and tendons, which are imperative in supporting weight and providing flexibility.
Causes of Neuropathy
Trauma, infection, and underlying medical conditions and disorders are the main causes of neuropathy. Traumatic accidents, such as a sports injury, can detach one or more nerves in the foot. The most common infections that cause neuropathy are Lyme disease, shingles, and hepatitis C. In addition to nerve damage, Rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease) causes inflammation in the tissue and destroys the surfaces of the bones. Neuropathy affects more than half of all diabetic patients. Diabetic patients who suffer from neuropathy often have damaged to multiple nerves.
Neuropathy Treatment Options
Dr. Weaver will complete several different tests in order to determine the location and extent of nerve damage. A neurological exam will test the tendon reflexes, muscle strength, sensations, and coordination. Electromyography tests read electrical activity to determine if the location of the damage is in the muscle or the nerves. Dr. Weaver will consider the test results and the patient's medical history when recommending the best treatment options.
For patients who have an underlying medical condition that has caused nerve damage, such as shingles, pain symptoms will typically decrease once the underlying condition is treated. Pain medications and lidocaine patches are often prescribed to relieve pain symptoms. Loose and padded shoe materials can help to reduce blisters, cuts, or calluses on the feet. Stimulating nerves can help to relieve pain symptoms; Dr. Weaver may recommend a combination of physical therapy, exercise, and massage therapy.
Neuropathy in South Florida
Dr. Jamie Weaver is a board certified podiatric surgeon who provides personalized care to patients in Naples and Bonita Springs, Florida areas. Dr. Weaver specializes in the treatment of foot and ankle problems. For more information about neuropathy and Dr. Weaver specialized treatments, schedule an appointment with Dr. Weaver at the Joint Replacement Institute's Naples office at (239) 261- 2663.