Neuropathy — nerve pain — can cause a wide range of symptoms that makes an accurate diagnosis difficult. At St. Augustine Foot, Ankle & Vein, experienced podiatrist Thomas LeBeau, DPM, FACCWS, is skilled in diagnosing the symptoms of neuropathy. Dr. LeBeau focuses on treating the underlying cause of your condition to protect the health of your feet and ankle. He is also highly experienced in addressing diabetes-related neuropathy and related complications. Learn more about available treatments, including physical therapy, for neuropathy by calling the office today or by scheduling a consultation online now.

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What is neuropathy?

Neuropathy, also called peripheral neuropathy, is a condition that develops due to damage in the peripheral nervous system — the nerves that travel throughout your body from your spinal cord — that results from underlying medical issues like diabetes or an immune system disorder, or trauma to your body.

The peripheral nervous system is responsible for sending signals between your central nervous system — your brain and spinal cord — and the rest of your body. The nerves that make up your peripheral nervous system include:

Motor nerves

Motor nerves control the movement of your muscles that you consciously control like muscles involved in walking, talking, and picking up objects.

Autonomic nerves

The autonomic nerves control the organs and activities you don’t control consciously like breathing, digestion, heartbeat, and glandular functions.

Sensory nerves

Sensory nerves provide the sensations of touch, temperature changes, and pain when you’re injured.

When these signals are disrupted, the functions controlled by the peripheral nervous system are disrupted, leading to a wide variety of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of neuropathy?

Neuropathy can cause symptoms that range from mild to intense and depend on the area of the peripheral nervous system that’s damaged.

You can experience symptoms like:

  • Pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Excessive sweating

You can also experience reduced sensations in your feet and hands.

Because the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can show up in many other medical conditions, an accurate diagnosis is necessary to ensure you receive the right treatment.

How is neuropathy diagnosed?

To determine if your symptoms relate to neuropathy, Dr. LeBeau reviews your personal and family medical history and does a physical exam. He could also order blood work to check if you have a vitamin deficiency, diabetes, or other underlying condition.

Dr. LeBeau could also do a neurological evaluation to see how much damage has been done to your peripheral nervous system.

How is neuropathy treated?

Treating your neuropathy will depend on its cause and the specific nerves that have been damaged.

In many cases, you’ll need physical therapy to restore muscle function and improve blood circulation, especially in your hands and feet.

If you have difficulty walking, Dr. LeBeau could recommend foot braces to stabilize your legs and prevent additional injuries to your foot.

If you have pain due to nerve damage, Dr. LeBeau will probably recommend over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatories to keep you comfortable.