Ankle & Foot Care Centers Nerve Decompression

Do You Suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy?

If you feel pain, numbing, tingling or numbness in your feet, you may be suffering from peripheral neuropathy. You may have been told that nothing can be done to change your condition. Or, you may have been told that your best option for relief is to take medication that treats your symptoms. And you may have learned from experience that medications don’t effectively relieve your symptoms.

Physicians and surgeons at Ankle & Foot Care Centers can offer another option as many of our patients have recovered from diabetic neuropathy. We can perform a nerve decompression procedure, often eliminating the symptoms of this condition.

Nerve Decompression Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions

What is peripheral neuropathy, and what are its symptoms?

Disorders that affect the peripheral nervous system – the nerves outside the central nervous system -- are referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms include:

  • Numbness and/or tingling in one or both feet.
  • Burning or shooting pain in one or both feet.
  • Cramping in the feet, and curling in the toes.
  • Similar conditions in one or both hands.
  • Loss of control or power in one or both hands or feet.

What causes this condition?

There are many known causes of peripheral neuropathy, including diabetes, arthritis, chemo therapy, radiation, sports injury, thyroid disorders, vitamin deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity, alcoholism and side effects from drugs. When the cause is not known, it is referred to as “idiopathic” peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is estimated to affect about 60 percent of all diabetics at some time, as well as many non-diabetics. 

What specifically happens to the nerves to cause this condition?

Pain, tingling and loss of sensation are often caused by a compression or entrapment of one or more nerve fibers.  This compression often occurs where nerves pass through a tunnel, such as the “carpal tunnel” between the wrist and the hand or “tarsal tunnel” which occurs in the foot and ankle. Other tunnels often compress nerves at the knee and ankle. When nerve fibers are compressed in these tunnels and are deprived of blood flow or nourishment, pain and/or tingling can develop, as the body’s way of signaling a problem. As these compressed nerve fibers die off, sensation can be lost altogether. 

What can be done to alleviate this condition?

Our doctors perform a nerve decompression surgery that has proven highly effective in alleviating the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. This type of surgery involves making a small incision in the area where the peripheral nerves are compressed, providing greater clearance for the nerves to pass through. This decompression often alleviates the pain, tingling and other symptoms when performed in time and for patients for which the procedure is appropriate.

What is the success rate of the nerve decompression procedure?

A recent national study found that with the appropriate selection approximately 80 percent of diabetic patients who had the surgery experienced decreased pain and improved sensory and motor function.  This information is not intended to suggest a guarantee of positive outcomes, as all situations are different.

What are the risks of the procedure?

Any surgery raises the risks of bleeding, scar formation and infection along with other typical complications from surgery. We mitigate these risks by carefully reviewing each patient’s medical history, enabling us to select the most appropriate anesthesia and setting for the procedure. We also utilize modern and certified equipment and techniques to minimize risks. Complications to this procedure are infrequent. They are explained in detail to patients at the time of evaluation.

What can happen if peripheral neuropathy goes untreated?

Peripheral neuropathy is often a progressive condition that can lead, if not treated, to serious complications, ulcers and/or amputations. Peripheral neuropathy is the leading cause of amputations in the United States .

Does nerve decompression require an overnight hospital stay?

The surgery typically requires about two hours in an operating room, plus an additional hour for recovery.  Generally the procedure is done on an outpatient basis and the patient goes home the same day of the surgery.  Sometimes, patients are kept overnight because of other pre-existing medical conditions.

Is anesthesia necessary?

General anesthesia, which puts a patient to sleep during surgery, is necessary for the patient during a nerve decompression procedure.  For patients who cannot tolerate general anesthesia, spinal anesthesia may be used for the legs. 

What should I do if I want to be considered for this procedure?

Make an appointment to see one of our certified podiatric physicians about an exam.

Am I a good candidate for this procedure?

Ideally, surgery is performed in the earlier stages of disease -- before all feeling is gone or ulcers develop. A history of ulcers or toe amputation does not necessarily mean that it's too late for surgery.  Our surgeons will consider your medical history, symptoms and results of a neuro-sensory test to determine if you may benefit from nerve decompression surgery.

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To read about a patient who recovered from severe peripheral neuropathy,
read this article in our Ankle & Foot Update newsletter.

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