Neuropathy is a common complication of multiple sclerosis and causes you to experience a lack of feeling in your feet. The condition occurs when the nerves that send messages back and forth between your brain and muscles are damaged. There are three types of neuropathy that can affect your feet, and the impact of neuropathy can be particularly pronounced in those with pre-existing muscle weakness due to multiple sclerosis. Here's an overview of the three types of neuropathy and how podiatric care can help:
Sensory neuropathy prevents you from feeling pain or changes in temperature in your feet. You may experience numbness in your feet or simply be unaware when you get a foot injury such as a cut or blister because the nerves that transmit sensations from your feet to your brain are damaged. Being unaware of a cut or blister doesn't sound serious, but if you use medication for your multiple sclerosis that supresses your immune system, a small cut or blister can quickly become infected or ulcerate.
If you struggle to bend over or lift your feet high enough to check them for injuries, you podiatrist can examine your feet for you on a regular basis. This allows signs of infection to be picked up early and treated with antibiotics. The podiatrist can also trim your nails to prevent them from rubbing against the sides of your toes and potentially breaking the delicate skin.
Motor neuropathy can lead to further muscle weakness in your feet, which can cause your toes to curl inwards and the arches of your feet can fall due to lack of support. Fallen arches can cause pain in the lower legs and put too much pressure on your feet, while curled toes can rub against the tops of your shoes and leave you at risk of developing blisters and corns.
Your podiatrist can show you how to do strengthening exercises and provide you with toe splints to straighten out curling toes. The splints consist of a soft material that fits over your toes and attaches to a firm base under your toes. The material can be adjusted to ensure it fits tightly and holds your toes in a straight position. The podiatrist can also measure you for custom-made orthotic insoles if you have fallen arches. The insoles provide support to your muscles by lifting your arches and altering the way weight is distributed across your feet.
Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that control the sweat glands in your feet, causing your feet to dry out and often develop cracks. Dry, cracked feet are prone to fungal and viral infections such as planter warts, which are difficult to treat when your immune system is compromised.
Your podiatrist can assess your feet and recommend a daily foot care regime to keep your feet moisturised. They can also file away dry skin and recommend suitable products for repairing cracked feet. If you do develop plantar warts, your podiatrist can use cryotherapy to freeze them off or laser therapy to kill the wart by destroying the blood cells that keep it alive.
If you're concerned about the health of your feet, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist from a clinic like Eastwood Podiatry Clinic Pty Ltd.