Neuropathy (also called peripheral neuropathy) refers to the damage of the nerves in the peripheral parts of your body--namely, your fingers and toes. Those with peripheral neuropathy will feel numbness or other unusual sensations in their toes and/or fingers (symptoms sometimes appear in the fingers and toes at or near the same time) and may eventually find it difficult or impossible to move them.

Causes of Neuropathy

  • Advanced age
  • Alcoholism--indeed, the United States National Library of Medicine reports that up to half of all sufferers from alcoholism develop neuropathy
  • Arthritis
  • Certain medications, including some chemotherapy drugs
  • Diabetes --in fact, diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy, with the majority of diabetes sufferers developing the condition
  • Heredity
  • Injury
  • Kidney failure
  • Neurological disorders, such as spina bifida and fibromyalgia
  • Vitamin deficiency

Symptoms of Neuropathy

Any of the following sensations in your toes or fingers may be a sign of neuropathy:

  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Tingling

Please be aware that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms in your toes, it is important for you to wear shoes at all times. Numbness in your toes could cause you to avoid feeling an injury caused by stepping on a sharp object. Untreated injuries and open wounds, no matter how small, could lead to potentially serious infections.

Treatments for Neuropathy

Because neuropathy has such a large number of potential causes, it is important for you to be evaluated by a physician who can determine the proper cause and offer the appropriate treatment(s), which may include the following:

  • Controlling your diabetes (if you have it) with a combination of appropriate diet, exercise, and medication--also check out our Diabetic Handbook for details on how to care for your feet if you have diabetes; if you are unsure if you have diabetes but exhibit some of the symptoms, it is important for you to see your doctor right away
  • Red light laser/cold laser/photobiomodulation
  • Medical grade vitamin therapy such as EBN 5 or Metanex
  • Extra corporeal shockwave therapy
  • Prescribing appropriate oral medications to reduce the pain caused by neuropathy
  • Using an over-the-counter medicine, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen, to relieve pain

Prevention of Neuropathy

  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Controlling blood sugar 
  • Exercise, proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices

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