About 20 million people in the United States suffer from peripheral neuropathy. This damage to the peripheral nervous system can be caused either by diseases of the nerve(s) or from the complications related to a systemic illness, such as diabetes mellitus. Common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness to touch and vibration, reduced position sense, sensitivity to temperature change and normal pain, and recurrent tingling or burning pain.
With the cold weather upon us, these symptoms can often be exacerbated. In an attempt to conserve the body’s core temperature, blood circulation to the hands and feet is limited. This reduced blood flow can further damage the already distorted peripheral nerves. As a result, the ability to measure the effects of the cold is compromised.
There are a number of preventative measures that you can take to lessen the pain and lower your risk of further nerve damage:
- Wear warm, dry socks during cold weather.
- Take occasional breaks from the cold.
- Try to drink something warm besides caffeinated drinks. Caffeine can cause blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to your hands and feet.
- Try not to smoke as cigarette-smoke can decrease circulation.
- Limit alcohol consumption since it can lead to vitamin deficiency.
- Exercise can increase strength, circulation, and coordination. This is best done indoors during the winter season. Also, supervision under a physical therapist is recommended.
Here are a few tips to ensure proper maintenance of your feet:
- Regularly inspect feet for sores or blisters.
- Wear better-fitting shoes and socks.
- Moisturize feet daily. Properly dry in between toes after bathing to avoid fungal infections.
- Keep toenails trimmed. If there are any obstacles, a health professional, such as a podiatrist, can do this for you.
Depending on the severity of your peripheral neuropathy, appropriate measures can be taken to treat the underlying cause and symptoms. In case you experience pain and discomfort, be sure to visit one of doctors here at Foot Care Associates which is located in Hackettstown, Landing, and Washington.
By Kyle Alessi