Think back to the last time your foot “fell asleep.” You could poke it, prod it, and flop it around while feeling very little, if anything at all. Your nerves were impaired, preventing any normal sensation. While a foot that’s “asleep” is a very temporary nerve issue, neuropathy is a very permanent one that can create similar results. You develop numbness and even nerve pain. Worse, the condition sharply increases your risk for complicated foot issues, making comprehensive foot care an absolute must to avoid serious damage.
Why Your Feet Go Numb
Neuropathy is a problem that deadens your nerves so that they don’t send correct messages to your brain. This can mean you aren’t able to feel pain well and that your nerves misfire. Misfiring nerves send incorrect pain messages to the brain and create an uncomfortable burning or pins-and-needles sensation in your lower limbs. This problem is most noticeable in your extremities, where it’s called peripheral neuropathy. The lower limbs are particularly vulnerable to this condition.
Many different issues can lead to neuropathy. Injuries to the nervous tissue, serious infections, exposure to toxins, chronic pressure on a nerve, kidney disease, and even vitamin deficiencies or extreme alcoholism can cause numb feet. The most common cause of neuropathy damage, though, is diabetes. High blood sugar levels from diabetes weaken your circulation and impair your nerves, leading to significant tingling and numbness in your feet and lower limbs.
Why Numb Feet are Such a Problem
Numb feet dramatically increase your risk for serious injuries, including ulcers and related infections as well as extreme complications from diabetes like Charcot foot. This is because pain is actually an important signal flag for your body. When something hurts, you know your foot has been injured and needs care. If your foot is numb, or sending faulty pain messages that mask real issues, you may not notice an actual wound to your lower limbs. Failing to treat that injury—and worse, continuing to walk on it—allows the damage to increase. Your foot is also opened up to possible infections.
Caring for Numb Feet
Knowing the source and extent of your neuropathy is important for treating it accurately. Dr. Brandon S. Percival, Dr. Julie A. Percival, and Dr. William Harris will carefully examine your lower limbs to determine the factors that affect your nerve issues. Then, our staff can help you establish a safe treatment plan to alleviate pain and reduce the risk of complications.
Since nerve damage increases your risk for injury, you need to invest in checking your lower limbs for damage every day. Wash and look over your feet, watching for odd discoloration in the skin or nails, cuts, bruises, callus build up, blisters, and other unusual changes. Use your hands to feel for problems, too—bumps, lumps, cold or warm spots, and tenderness may all be signs of complications. Wearing supportive shoes and using orthotics to help correct biomechanical issues may decrease your risk for injuries. Exercising and getting appropriate nutrition is also important. This boosts the vitamins, minerals, and all-important circulation that your feet need.
Don’t underestimate numbness or nerve pain in your lower limbs. It can be a serious problem that you deal with for the rest of your life—but it shouldn’t hold you back from doing what you love. Instead, let our team at Carolina Podiatry Group take care of your lower limbs. Use our website to make an appointment. You can also call our South Carolina offices: (803) 548-FEET for the Indian Land location, or (803) 285-1411 for our Lancaster office.
Photo Credit: NenovBrothers via FreeDigitalPhotos.net