Neurological Conditions That Affect Feet
There are many reasons that foot and ankle issue develop and underlying neurological conditions are one of them. These include such issues as peripheral neuropathy, cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and certain toe deformities like hammertoe, mallet toe, and claw toe.
Nerve damage can be rather concerning, especially for diabetic individuals. This form of neuropathy affects the peripheral nerves, the ones that extend from the central nervous system (particularly the spinal column) to the outer reaches of the body. When functioning in their intended fashion, these nerves are responsible for allowing us to process the world around us through our senses.
When you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, you may experience either faulty sensations—like burning, tingling, or pain that shouldn’t exist—or, often worse, not feel anything at all. The primary concern with an inability to experience a sense of touch is that injury or conditions can arise without the brain being able to process it. This creates a situation where an injury can go untreated and open the door for infection or further damage to body tissues.
In the case of diabetes, neuropathy is often partnered with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) to form a dangerous one-two punch. The body has neither the ability to detect an injury or infection, nor the healthy circulation and proper immune functionality to address it.
This particular neurological condition has a profound effect on muscle coordination and movement, which in turn affects various functions of feet and ankles. The disorder has five different levels of classification with regard to mobility. Those who fall within the first three levels (I-III) are able to walk with different degrees of ability and assistance. Those who are in levels IV and V typically rely on wheeled assistance for their mobility.
Individuals who live with cerebral palsy and fit into the levels that allow for walking often do so with an unsteady gait and benefit from assistive devices like braces and other walking aids. Medications for the condition are typically muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants and do not provide much benefit for mobility.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is another neurological condition that affects the peripheral nerves. In this inherited disorder, the nerves responsible for controlling voluntary muscle activities are affected. Common symptoms include difficulty with walking and standing, weak legs, abnormal gait (high stepping, foot drop), and foot deformities (hammertoes, cavus foot). These symptoms can progressively worsen in a gradual fashion.
Forms of treatment for CMT entail physical therapy, orthotic devices, and, in some cases, orthopedic surgery. Physical therapy is the preferred treatment and centers on stretching, strengthening, and endurance exercises. This is often catered to the specific individual receiving the treatment, since there is a vast range of severity and symptoms of patients.
Hammertoe, Mallet Toe, and Claw Toe
Hammertoe, mallet toe, and claw toe are toe deformities that can develop as a result of various root causes, including neurological conditions like cerebral palsy and CMT. Other underlying causes are stroke, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
In each of the three conditions a toe or toes have developed an abnormal bend in either one or multiple joints. The locations of the abnormal bending differentiates between the conditions. In the case of a hammertoe, there is an unusual downward bend at the middle joint. The same bend is found in a mallet toe, only at the joint closes to the nail. In the case of a claw toe, the toe bends up at the first joint and down at the second and third, which gives the appearance of a claw.
Foot and Ankle Care for Neurological Conditions in Manalapan, NJ
Our office helps patients living in the greater Manalapan, NJ community with a wide range of foot and ankle issues, including ones that stem from neurological issues. When you or any of your loved ones experience problems in your lower appendages, don’t hesitate to contact A Step Up Podiatry, LLC and have our foot specialists provide the expert care you need. Schedule your appointment online or simply give us a call today at (732) 446-7136.