Do your feet feel cold all the time especially at night? Well this could simply be due to temperatures dropping outside or it could be a sign that you may have peripheral neuropathy. Many people who often have a chronic case of cold feet often attribute it to the weather or sometimes vascular problems. If it was due to the weather then your feet should warm up when indoors or if you put some socks on. Vascular problems usually don’t manifest as cold feet, it will often appear as pain that gets worse when walking and goes away with rest. Peripheral neuropathy is when nerves in your peripheral limbs (such as hands and feet) get damaged and depending on the type of nerve fibers that are damaged, it could manifest as cold feet. If sensory nerves are damaged, then you may experience the sensation of cold feet. It could also manifest as a pins and needles feeling like when your foot falls asleep (but doesn’t go away) or a jabbing pain. If nerves that control your muscles are damaged then you may experience weakness and if nerves that control automatic functions such as your heart rate or blood pressure are damaged then you may experience changes in blood pressure which could cause lightheadedness or dizziness.

There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy but the most common cause by far is uncontrolled diabetes. Over half of all people with diabetes do end up developing some form of neuropathy at some point in their lifetime. Other causes of peripheral neuropathy include trauma, B vitamin deficiency, medications, autoimmune diseases, and alcoholism just to name a few. Peripheral neuropathy is a very serious problem. Due to the fact that it often affects sensory nerves, people are often unable to feel pain to their limbs. So if someone has peripheral neuropathy in their feet and they are walking around with a small pebble in their shoe that they can’t feel, then that pebble will grind a hole in their foot creating a wound that could potentially get infected and lead to amputation of the foot.

In order to diagnosis peripheral neuropathy, your physician will need to take a complete history and physical exam of you as well as complete a neurological examination and perform tests to assess the functioning of the nerves. Damage to the nerves is often permanent but your doctor may recommend some changes to keep the disease from getting worse.  If you are diabetic, it is very important that you keep your blood glucose levels under control. If your neuropathy is caused by other factors then your doctor will recommend steps to get those under control. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help reduce diabetic nerve pain. If you are suffering from peripheral neuropathy or would like more information about peripheral neuropathy please make an appointment with one of our podiatrists at Affiliated Foot and Ankle Care located in Edison and Monroe, NJ.

By Nrupa Shah