Those who suffer the loss of feeling in their feet have a condition that is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Patients with diabetes are very susceptible to this condition, but there are many other causes for this. Some of these causes include post chemotherapy, vitamin deficiency, adverse reactions to medication, infection, excessive alcohol intake and autoimmune diseases. Typically a person knows that something is wrong with his or her body because they feel pain, however, those who suffer from neuropathy are unable to feel the pain, leading to foot related injuries going unattended. By this happening, any of these injuries can become exceedingly worse over time, many times even resulting in an infection, ulcers or an amputation. Here are some tips to keep you from being stuck in this sort of situation.
6 Tips to Avoid Foot Problems Related to Neuropathy
- Be sure to inspect your feet daily. You should be aware of any blisters or irritations.
- Wash your feet every day with warm water and mild soap.
- Moisturize your feet every day with lotion to ensure that your feet are soft.
- When cutting your toenails, make sure you cut them straight across. Make sure to see your podiatrist if you develop an issue such as an ingrown toenail.
- Do not acid medications to remove corns or calluses – you will probably just end up causing more damage this way.
- Don’t ever go barefoot! Also make sure that the shoes you’re wearing fit you correctly. Shoes that are too tight or rub your foot the wrong way can cause you some problems.
Peripheral neuropathy can cause you to experience problems with walking and balance. This can become pretty annoying considering you may have trouble seeing if a curb is high or low and potentially falling over your own feet. To help you out, here are some tips to improve your balance.
How to Improve Your Balance With Neuropathy
- When walking, try to keep your feet apart; think of it like you’re straddling an imaginary line.
- When you’re turning, turn your feet first, and then your body. Lift one foot at a time while keeping your feet parallel and wide apart.
- When you sit down, reach with both hands for the arms of the chair and lower yourself slowly into the chair.
- When you’re getting up from a chair, lean your nose over your toes while keeping your hands on the chair to help stabilize yourself.
- Once you’re standing, get your balance, and then start walking slowly.
- The bathroom can be hazardous if you aren’t careful. To be safe, don’t lay out any loose rugs on the floor.
- Have small night lights inside your house to help guide the way for you when it’s dark.
There are two main types of neuropathy: autonomic and peripheral. Autonomic neuropathy damages nerves that control involuntary functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure perspiration and digestion. Peripheral neuropathy damages motor and sensory nerves that lead to pain, numbness and weakness. If you suffer from neuropathy, you should know the side effects and when to seek treatment.
Common Side Effects of Neuropathy
Dizziness and Fainting
Dizziness and fainting are side effects associated with neuropathy. Because these nerves are damaged, blood vessels can’t contract and expand to control blood pressure. You’re most likely to experience dizziness and fainting when standing after sitting or lying down. This happens because blood vessels in your lower body don’t effectively constrict or shrink when blood pressure increases. This causes blood to pool in your legs, which reduces blood pressure in the brain.
Loss of Sensation
Peripheral neuropathy can cause a loss of sensation. This occurs because damage to sensory nerves causes numbness and an inability to determine joint position, which can cause incoordination. You may notice sensory loss that starts in your hands or toes that eventually affects your arms or legs. This can be serious because you may not be able to feel a sore or ulcer developing in the feet. The open sore or ulcer can get infected, which may lead to serious complications.
Neuropathy may affect nerves that control muscles, such as motor nerves in the hands, arms, feet or legs, making it difficult to remove. You may also experience cramps, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, joint instability, lack of coordination and loss of muscle tissue.
Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves outside of the brain or spinal cord and can cause changes to sensation, movement and involuntary functions. The nerve damage from this condition can have lasting effects that can impact your everyday life. Here are just a few of those effects.
The Long Term Effects of Peripheral Neuropathy
Reduced Feeling: Peripheral neuropathy affects three types of nerves: sensory, motor and autonomic. The sensory nerves send information to the brain, but when these nerves are damaged by peripheral neuropathy, you can experience nerve pain, burning sensations or tingling. You may even experience numbness that starts in the feet and moves up in the body. With this numbness, you may have reduced feeling in your limbs, which can affect your ability to sense changes. If the injury goes untreated, you could end up with an infection.
Problems Moving: Since peripheral neuropathy can affect the motor nerves, you could end up with a partial or total loss of movement and muscle control. It can also cause muscle atrophy, in which you could lose some muscle tissue. You may also have a lack of muscle control and dexterity, which can affect your ability to do tasks such as writing with a pen.
Weight Loss: If you have peripheral neuropathy you could lose weight due to the autonomic nerve damage symptoms. You could even lose more than 5 percent of your body weight. You may have nausea and vomiting after meals as well. The autonomic symptoms of peripheral neuropathy cause you to feel full after eating a small amount of food, which can also affect weight. Motor nerve damage in your throat can affect your ability to swallow, which may cause you to eat less.
Suprascapular neuropathy is typically the result of traction damage to the Suprascapular nerve. This nerve arises from the upper part of the brachial plexus, the large number of nerves where they exit the spine at the base of the neck, and travels under the trapezius to the scapular where it supplies the Supraspinatus and Infraspinatus muscles.
Suprascapular Neuropathy and Its Symptoms
Damage to this nerve usually occurs during sports that involve overhead movements. Some of these sports include tennis, cricket and volleyball. Injury to the nerve can happen because of compression, traction or direct trauma. Unnatural movements of the scapula can also cause stretching of the nerve. The growth of cysts resulting from superior glenoid labral tears can compress the nerve as well.
If you think you are suffering from suprascapular neuropathy, you’ll be experiencing these symptoms:
- Aching or burning pain of the shoulder joint.
- Deep pain within the shoulder joint.
- Pain that radiates through the arm.
- Gradually occurring pain.
- Weakness of the shoulder joint into abduction – lifting the arm out to the side – and external rotation.
- Wasting of the Supraspinatus and Infraspinatus muscles.
According to the Neuropathy Association, there are more than 100 different types of peripheral neuropathy, which can be caused by diabetes, but may be caused by other factors as well, such as autoimmune disorders, tumors or trauma to specific parts of your body. The most common symptoms include numbness, tingling, difficulty balancing or other abnormal sensations. However, certain yoga poses can actually help alleviate certain symptoms.
Yoga and Neuropathy: Yoga Poses That Can Help with Your Neuropathy Symptoms
Inversions: Inversions are yoga poses in which you invert your body, such as forward bends, headstands, shoulder stands, and downward-facing dog.
These poses help calm your mind, strengthen your core muscles and stimulate the endocrine system. Inversions may also help to ease joint pain and stiff ligaments, help to soothe the central nervous system and reverse the numbness that come with with neuropathy.
Feet Exercises: Many people who suffer from neuropathy have problems with numbness and tingling in their feet. Finger and toe exercises can help with the neuropathy in your feet. Thread your fingers between your toes while you’re sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position. Then, spread and stretch your fingers to increase the circulation and range of motion of your toes. Repeat this for several minutes.
Pawanmuktasana: Pawanmuktasana is a simple pose that can help to restore strength in different areas of your body that have been affected by neuropathy. Pawanmuktasana, also known as knees-to-chest, is a pose performed while lying down. Bring your right knee to your chest and hold your shin with your arms, trying to bring your head to your knee. Hold this pose for a few moments, and switch legs. Repeat this up to four times.
You are the only one who knows how much pain from your case of neuropathy. Chances are you feel helpless and are in unbearable pain, despite how much care you show your feet. Here are a few suggestions to help you gain more control of the pain.
How to Reduce Foot Pain from Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy
See a neurologist. They are best way of finding out how to understand the neurological pain you are experiencing and will let you know what treatments or prescription drugs will best treat your pain.
To endure the day to day pain or increased pain in the evening try:
- Rub Capzasin–HP onto your feet three times a day. This will probably take up to a month to start showing relief.
- Rub in 024 Essential Oil Pain Neutralizer a couple of times a day. Warning: it smells a little strong, but it’s worth the pain relief.
- Buy shoes with good arch support and try to stay away from shoes that cause blisters.
- Practice simple yoga postures. These will help you take your mind off pain.
- Practice deep breathing several times a day.
- Meditation has also been known to help calm the pain.
- Swimming isn’t just a good exercise for your body, but your feet as well.
- Get a good foot examination once a year from a qualified podiatrist.
- Cymbalta and Lyrica are relatively new drugs that help to reduce neuropathic pain; both require prescription from your doctor.
Neuropathy can result in pain, numbness or tingling caused by injury or vitamin deficiencies usually. However, exercise can help reduce pain from this condition.
Exercises to Help Ease Your Neuropathy Symptoms
Range of Motion: These exercises are performed at joints and help stimulate nerve conduction and circulation in the areas that are affected. For example, a range of motion exercise for the foot will rotate the ankle joint. Sitting in a chair, lift your foot and circle in a clockwise motion, then a counterclockwise motion. Repeat this 5 to 10 times in each direction.
Low-Impact Exercises: Walking, stationary bicycling and swimming are low-impact exercises that help reduce complications and pain of foot neuropathy. When walking, keep your pelvis tucked under and the lower abdominal muscles pulled in toward the base of the spine. Walk short distances in the beginning, gradually increasing distance and duration. When biking or swimming, use full ankle joint function, and work the joint to help avoid stiffness and pain.
Toe Tapping Exercises: Sit in a chair with your heels on the floor. Lift your toes off the floor, and then lower them, creating a tapping motion. Repeat this 15 to 20 times. Another variation is to place your heels together, then lift your toes off the floor as high as you can. You then turn your feet outward creating a “V” shape with your heels still touching the floor. Touch your toes to the floor, then lift them again, bring them together, and touch them to the floor again. Repeat this 5 to 10 times.
Sitting Leg Pointers: Sit in a chair with your back straight and your knees together. Lift your right foot off the floor, while simultaneously straightening your right knee. Point your toes into the distance. Holding the leg out straight, point your toes toward your body in a deep flex. Circle your ankle joint clockwise, then counterclockwise five times. Lower your right foot to the floor and repeat this with your other foot.
If you’ve driven past a park and seen a group of people performing carefully synchronized movements, they were most likely practicing the ancient Chinese martial art Tai Chi. This martial art is supposed to help enhance mental and physical health, so it’s no wonder that it was found to be able to help improve symptoms or peripheral neuropathy.
But before you can understand how Tai Chi can help with this condition, you first need to understand what peripheral neuropathy is and how it affects those who are infected with it. Peripheral neuropathy is a systemic degenerative disease that directly affects your peripheral nervous system, which is responsible for carrying the signals from your brain and spinal column to everywhere else in your body. When this happens, you begin losing the ability to move your extremities and feel pain in your hands and feet. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for this condition, but the practice of Tai Chi can really help improve the symptoms that come along with it.
Patients who have stayed active through Tai Chi have reported that their episodes of severe burning and pain that they experienced on a daily basis were reduced to maybe one or two episodes a year. That’s a pretty significant amount if you ask me. The benefits of Tai Chi don’t stop there, though. It also helps with strength and balance as well as helps calm the mind and body.
If you have diabetic neuropathy, you know how difficult and frustrating it can be just to cope.
There are no obvious signs that come with the condition, so how are people supposed to know what you’re going through, let alone understand it? It is so important to have support during your time of need, so seeking out a counselor or therapist may be just the thing you need. Or, you may want to find a support group, either in person or online, so that you can connect with others who are going through the same experiences that you are going through. By doing this, you are surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you and give you advice or points of view that you’ve never even thought of.
Not sure where to start looking? The American Diabetes Association offers online support through its website, www.diabetes.org. Even if you aren’t looking for help, there are others out there who need support, so why not lend them a helping hand?