Balance and stability

Are your stability issues caused by neuropathy?

In Conditions by Alnoor Ladhani, Chiropodist

There are many different types of stability issues, and understanding your specific challenges is going to be the first step toward finding a treatment that will work. Peripheral neuropathy is a specific disorder that can create stability issues, stumbling, clumsiness, an abnormal gait and a wide variety of other health problems. To find out if you have peripheral neuropathy, you will want to consult your doctor. However, you can continue reading here for a quick crash-course.

Balance and stability

What is it?

Weakness or numbness in the hands and feet is the tell-tale sign of peripheral neuropathy, although these symptoms by themselves are not a direct indicator of the disorder. It can result from physical injuries, genetics, infections, or exposure to various toxins. Ultimately, it comes down to some form of damage to your peripheral nerves resulting in a loss of function of your extremities. There is frequently stabbing or burning pain associated, which makes movement difficult.

Some key signs to look for that may be the result of peripheral neuropathy are: jagged pain, sensitivity to touch, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, or even paralysis. It is often caused by diabetes and in fact, more than 50% of diabetes patients will develop some form of neuropathy in their lifetime.

What it isn’t

Coordination issues that affect your stability can come from many different sources, so it is important to remember that a loss of feeling in your limbs does not necessarily mean peripheral neuropathy. Often times, similar numbness can be caused by blood flow problems or forms of nerve damage that are unrelated to neuropathy. It takes a trained professional to diagnose you, as a review of your medical history in addition to a neurological examination will be necessary. CT or MRI scans may be recommended.

How to treat it

The goal of treatment for neuropathy is to identify and manage the cause and ease the symptoms. If diabetes is present, treatments related to that disease will apply, including changes in diet and lifestyle. In these cases, it is important to pay special attention to your feet, checking for blisters or calluses. In addition to healthy eating, exercise and low alcohol intake are also factors.

Different medications may be prescribed to treat the disorder, including over the counter pain relievers. Anti-seizure medication and anti-depressants are also found to be effective in treating symptoms. Capsaicin cream, made from the chemical found in hot peppers, is used to treat the pain.

Where to start

It is best to seek medical attention from your Chiropodist if you are experiencing strange tingling or unusual weakness in your extremities. By catching the problem early, much more serious complications can be avoided and more helpful treatment can be provided.