The neurological exam is one of the four pillars of a podiatric evaluation.
This focuses on the signals that travel between our brain and spinal cord (central) to our feet and ankles (peripheral).
Most of these signals are like autopilot, such as sweating, touch sensations and reflexes.
Some signals are under our control, like wiggling a toe.
When some of these signals stop working correctly, negative consequences can occur. That is generally called neuropathy. Down at the foot and ankle then, it’s a peripheral neuropathy.
There can be many reasons to have a peripheral neuropathy and their effects vary in extent, intensity and scope.
For a patient though, it’s important to know when you have one to manage risk factors and prevent poor outcomes.
Focusing on the sensory aspect of neuropathy, here are some bullet points to focus on.
Sharp touch sensation is a crucial signal which helps us detect when we step on something sharp or sustain a focal injury to our skin.
With some peripheral neuropathies, people lose this feeling which means a poke through the skin can go undetected. A puncture or cut can then get infected leading to severe consequences.
Loss of vibratory and pressure sensation may seem trivial, but without these sensation signals, your feet don’t send the signals to your head that the ground is solid. This can translate into subtle walking abnormalities that can lead to unrealized contusions or even falls.
If temperature sensation is lost, a person may not realize how hot the summer pavement is until they have blisters, or how cold that slush puddle is until frostbite sets in.
And if proprioception (the sense of body position and movement) is lost, then risks for trips, sprains and falls can increase.
Call Dr. Sohl of Sohl Foot & Ankle at 267-699-3839 for your evaluation today.
PHOTO CAP: A thorough neurological exam can help prevent injuries.