Neuropathy is a disorder that affects the network of nerves (called the “peripheral nerves”) that connect the spinal cord to the organs, muscles and skin. The job of the peripheral nervous system is to relay signals or information from the central nervous system (i.e., your brain and spinal cord) to the rest of your body, and vice versa. Neuropathy develops when some type of damage has been done to the peripheral nerves, which will eventually affect your ability to perceive certain touch-related information such as warmth, pressure, etc. People who suffer from peripheral neuropathy will sometimes feel numbness or tingling in their extremities such as their arms, legs, hands, and feet.
How Neuropathy Affects the Feet
Since neuropathy affects the nerves of the feet, there can be times when your nerves will send signals of pain when there is no source of pain present. This can take the form of sharp shooting pain in your feet, or even a dull ache or throbbing sensation. Other times, you may experience a loss of feeling when something actually is harming you. Other symptoms include burning or stabbing sensations in the toes. This type of condition can be caused by a number of factors, including illness, injury, infection, or even hereditary disorders. Neuropathy can also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as diabetes.
Neuropathy: Caring for Your Feet
If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, it is highly recommended that you inspect your feet on a regular basis. Since neuropathy can cause a gradual decrease in physical sensation, it can be easy to accidentally overlook an infection or injury. For example, you could step on a piece of glass or a tack and not even feel it. Carefully inspect your feet on a consistent basis, and seek medical attention if necessary. In addition, it is a good idea to avoid walking barefoot, and be sure to wear adequately protective footwear.