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Peripheral Neuropathy | Find Your Stride | Edinburgh Podiatrist

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that occurs when the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This can result in various symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain in the affected areas of the body, with the most common being the feet. In this blog post, we will explore the common causes of peripheral neuropathy, its effects on the feet, and how it can impact an individual's ability to walk.

Motor neurones are found in the brain and spinal cord, they allow us to move and carry out bodily functions such as breathing and swallowing
Motor neurones seen under a microscope

Common Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

There are several factors that can lead to peripheral neuropathy, including diabetes, autoimmune diseases, infections, traumatic injuries, and exposure to toxins or certain medications. Diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy, as high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves over time. Additionally, certain autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can also lead to nerve damage and subsequent peripheral neuropathy.

Effects on the Feet

The feet are particularly vulnerable to the effects of peripheral neuropathy, as they are often the first area to be affected. As the nerves in the feet become damaged, individuals may experience symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and a burning sensation. This can make it difficult to feel pain or changes in temperature, leading to an increased risk of injury and infection. Furthermore, the lack of sensation in the feet can also contribute to the development of foot ulcers, which can be slow to heal and may lead to serious complications.

Effects on Walking

Peripheral neuropathy can significantly impact an individual's ability to walk, as the loss of sensation and coordination in the feet can make it difficult to maintain balance and stability. Additionally, the pain and discomfort associated with peripheral neuropathy can make it challenging to engage in physical activity and maintain an active lifestyle. As a result, individuals with peripheral neuropathy may experience limitations in their mobility and may require assistive devices such as canes or walkers to aid in walking.


In conclusion, peripheral neuropathy can be a debilitating condition that can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life. The feet are particularly susceptible to the effects of peripheral neuropathy, and the resulting symptoms can make it difficult to walk and perform daily activities. It is important for individuals with peripheral neuropathy to work closely with their healthcare team to manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing underlying conditions such as diabetes can help prevent the development of peripheral neuropathy.

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