When your feet feel numb, it's worrying. You wonder what's causing the loss of sensation. Often, the problem is peripheral neuropathy. But what is this condition? And does developing neuropathy mean you have diabetes? Luckily, the answer is no!
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
This condition describes nerve damage in your peripheral extremities. (Namely, your feet and legs.) Now, many people with diabetes have neuropathy.
For some people, that's because high blood sugar levels damage these delicate nerves. Other neuropathy causes include chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Poor circulation can contribute to the problem. Some people develop this condition from alcohol dependency. Lacking certain nutrients can also trigger this cause of nerve damage. And so can certain diseases, such as AIDS.
Clearly, diabetes is not the only reason people develop this form of nerve damage. And you also have to remember. Just because you have neuropathy doesn't mean you'll get diabetes. And not everyone with diabetes develops neuropathy.
Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms
Peripheral neuropathy can make your feet feel numb or tingly. But the numbness isn't exactly a loss of feeling. Because neuropathy also causes a burning and stinging pain in the feet.
For some people, that stinging feels both cold and hot. And, no matter how hard they try, they can't warm their feet. Other people say their feet feel like they're wrapped in several pairs of socks. Or even in wax.
Now, just as each person's neuropathy symptoms differ, so do the condition causes. Again, I have to remind you. Not every case of peripheral neuropathy is due to diabetes. Also, not every person with diabetes develops peripheral neuropathy.
Why am I telling you this so many times? Many of my Houston patients think that their numbness caused by peripheral neuropathy is a precursor to diabetes. And they think that because they heard it from a doctor who wasn't me. But it simply isn't true.
Peripheral Neuropathy and Diabetes: What's the Connection
Peripheral neuropathy can, and often does, stand alone from diabetes. When diabetics do develop peripheral neuropathy, it is a result of diabetes. But the opposite isn't true. In fact, some diabetics develop peripheral neuropathy from something other than diabetes! And identifying the proper cause matters. Because we can tailor your treatment to your disease triggers and symptoms.
Treating Peripheral Neuropathy in Houston
While you may be confused about why you get neuropathy, let me be very clear on this next point. We can help you relieve your neuropathy pain. Too many patients believe you can't do anything for this condition. But that's not the case at all.
If your neuropathy is painful, certain medications can relieve that symptom. Options include Lyrica, Neurontin and Cymbalta. But, while effective, these medications can also cause serious side effects. So they aren't always my first treatment suggestion. Especially if you don't experience neuropathy pain.
Looking for a less invasive way to manage neuropathy pain? We can try biofreeze. This is a topical pain reliever. It contains herbal cold-relief. And that offers temporary pain relief while fighting inflammation.
Unlike medications, this analgesic doesn't cause unwanted side effects. Plus, you have lots of dosing options. After all, it comes in a spray, roll-on or gel form. But most of my patients like the spray, since it acts quickly to stamp out pain.
Best of all? You can use biofreeze throughout the day. So, when you're hit with a wave of neuropathy pain, you can quickly address your discomfort. But when you're feeling ok, you don't need to introduce medications to your system.
Help for Numb Feet
What about when neuropathy causes uncomfortable numbness? In these cases, you need different treatments than the ones that offer pain relief. But here again, you've got options.
Something as simple as special vitamin blends can offer relief. And I love this option, because the vitamins won't interact with other medications. Which is important, since many neuropathy patients are managing other health conditions.
The most common options are medical foods, either Neuremedy or Metanx. Both can improve neuropathy symptoms. But in different ways, that may affect who benefits from these supplements.
Neuremedy helps your body restore its vitamin B1 (thiamine) levels. And that's important, because many neuropathy sufferers also have B1 deficiencies. So restoring your levels can help resolve neuropathy symptoms for anyone with this condition.
Metanx, on the other hand, is for diabetics with neuropathy. It works to boost your blood flow in a few different ways. The result? better circulation. And, often, neuropathy relief. But Metanx is a prescription medication. So you'll have to pick it up at a pharmacy, and not from my office directly.
The Bottom Line: My Feet are Numb...Do I Have Diabetes?
During this post, I know I may have provided you with more confusion than solid answers. Because, while getting neuropathy doesn't mean you have or will develop diabetes? There are clear links between both conditions.
So, what should you do if your feet are numb and you don't know why? The bottom line is: don't make assumptions. Your numb feet could be diabetic neuropathy. They could be a sign of neuropathy caused by other conditions. Or it could mean another problem entirely!
The point is, we can't give you a proper diagnosis or treatment without a proper exam. So, if your experiencing numb feet, or foot pain of any kind? Stop using google to figure out what's wrong. Instead, visit your Houston podiatrist to determine the cause of your peripheral neuropathy.
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