Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Why Are My Feet Burning? Peripheral Neuropathy and the Importance of Early Diagnosis


By Linda Gilman MS, LPC, Gerontology Specialist

Miss Lily awakens with a start! “What’s on my feet? They are tingling … why are they tingling … why are they burning?” And, as she moved her feet there was a terrible pain that made her jump out of bed, which wasn’t a good idea because her balance was off — BOOM — Miss Lily was on the floor yelling for help! This was the beginning of doctor visits, tests, and (thank goodness) medication to help take the tingling and burning away.

Furthermore, Miss Lily was telling Marilyn that she was feeling so warm lately and often “woozy.” Because Miss Lily had diabetes, Marilyn thought it would be a good idea to take her to the doctor and discuss this new condition. Peripheral neuropathy (PN), that’s what the doctor told Miss Lily she had. “Boy, it’s a long name,” Miss Lily said. “Well, I hope you can make it go away, Doc, I can’t keep waking up at night and falling on the floor. My delicate body can’t take it and my boyfriend at the Center won’t want to dance with me if I have black and blue marks.”

Marilyn was very smart to take Miss Lily to her doctor right away. As Miss Lily will tell you, “My doctor told me that I was lucky because he caught it early enough so that the medicine could help me feel better.”  Aside from diabetes, alcoholism; vitamin deficiencies; medications; infections; tumors; and, trauma are just some of the conditions that could cause PN to manifest itself. As in Miss Lily’s case, it was her diabetes that brought it on.

In The Miss Lily Communication Series, Marilyn and Miss Lily talk about the importance of good medical care along with proper dietary choices, daily vitamin intake and healthy lifestyles. “PN can be very painful, and for someone with dementia it could be difficult to diagnose. That’s why it is very important to get to the doctor as soon as possible,” states Marilyn. “It doesn’t have to be debilitating if diagnosed and treated by a knowledgeable physician.”

If you are caring for someone with PN and are feeling overwhelmed, feel free to call Linda Gilman or Marilyn Woelke with Geri-Ed Services for support. Having PN is hard enough — the pain, irritability, and sleeping problems — and can be very stressful for the caregiver. Education is important and reading about PN can be helpful.

Have a great month and we’ll see you in June!

Peace and Love,
Miss Lily

Readers, feel free to contact Linda Gilman or Marilyn Woelke at Geri-Ed Services, 309-373-2400 or 309-781-6462, if you are concerned about a loved one who drinks too much or who has behavioral problems due to drinking. Alcohol is becoming high on the list of the dementia related problems. But it is one of the dementias that may be reversed if caught early.

Photo credit: Jan-Otto/iStock