Certain ailments are easy to identify and diagnose – pain in the back or the neck is usually easy to discover. But sometimes, we experience other symptoms that we don’t realize indicate a larger issue, or we don’t associate with other symptoms. For example, it may not be until you visit a spine doctor that you realize your feet feeling cold can be a part of larger neurological issues. What starts as back pain can lead to something called neuropathy, a chronic condition in which pain becomes a disease process. An estimated 7-10% of people have neuropathic pain, but not many people know about it. It is important to seek care for any back pain to understand if you may be in this group.
What Is Neuropathy?
Every body functions in part due to the peripheral nervous system, a complex system of messages that send information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. The peripheral nerves also send information to the central nervous system regarding sensory inputs. When the nerves that live outside of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, this system of communication can break down and cause a number of issues.
In some cases, neuropathy is caused by metabolic issues, exposure to toxins, or genetic conditions; diabetes is a very common cause as well. Any pain that compresses a nerve can ultimately lead to neuropathy, and it is ultimately brought on by a trauma such as a car or motorcycle accident. Back pain is often the first sign of this trauma and therefore a good indicator that something could be damaged.
People with peripheral neuropathy often describe the pain they feel as stabbing, burning, or tingling sensations. However, as neuropathy persists, other symptoms may occur. Early signs are likely to appear in the back and neck and radiate along nerve paths. You may also notice discolorations of skin in the affected area, as well as insomnia or depression. These are all indicators that neuropathy could be developing and are a reason to seek care immediately.
Causes of Cold Feet
When neuropathy is brought on by trauma or injury, the root of the issue will often lie in the spine. A herniated disc is an example where the disc pressing against a nerve could cause pain that becomes neuropathy. As the pain continues, the central nervous system can be permanently changed, leading to symptoms in other areas of the body.
As neuropathy develops, it may impact the body’s longest nerves first, which reach down o the toes. People with neuropathy often report numbness or tingling in their feet and lower legs, some describing it as similar to the feeling of your foot “falling asleep”. For many, this tingling is absent but the cold feeling persists. Feet may also be sensitive to the touch.
As neuropathy appears, the nerves that detect temperature can be some of the messengers that sustain damage. When these nerves aren’t working correctly, extremities like feet may not be able to regulate temperature and will feel cold to you, even if they are not cold to the touch. This will begin in the feet but can often spread up the legs and to other parts of the body.
One of the most critical things you can do if you suspect neuropathy is to seek early treatment. Any spinal injuries or back pain should be evaluated by a specialist quickly so that you can seek relief and rule out injuries that will impact the nerves. At AICA Orthopedics, we specialized in the spine and its effect on the body.
When you visit AICA Orthopedics, you will have access to a diverse group of specialists who can diagnose problems causing spinal pain. Through imaging and consultations, we can work towards a diagnosis and a roadmap to better health. You will work with neurologists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and neurosurgeons to improve the health of your spine.
While early diagnosis is always preferable, AICA Orthopedics has experience at all levels of severity. The nerve damage will continue to progress when treatment is not applied. Contact us today to evaluate if you may be suffering from neuropathy begin your path to recovery.