Can neuropathy in the foot be caused by an injury to the spine area?
Traumatic neuropathy is a defined entity
Good afternoon young lady. And thank very much for your question.
Traumatic incidents are recognized as the cause of neuropathy when dysfunction of either a sensory or motor nature occurs in a limb following a fall, crush injury, or some other traumatic event. If you are referring that you now have some dysfunction, pain, numbness, or other funny feelings in your foot/leg that has occurred immediately following or shortly after a fall involving your back then, I would very much recommend the following:
1. Neurological examination by a neurologist
2. MRI of the lumbosacral region and plain films of the back as well
3. Possible EMG/NCV electrical studies depending on what the neurological exam shows in order to very that the dysfunction in the limb is due to NERVE involvement and not something else which could be mechanical such as a potential fracture or biochemical imbalance.
I would especially relate the dysfunction to either a traumatic episode or specific "pinched nerve" in the back if your problems are only on 1 side and they clearly did not exist prior to the fall.
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Thank you for additional information
I've read the additional information you've provided regarding your sister and again would refer you to what I've written previously in order to answer your question which remains still a YES, traumatic injury is a recognized cause of neuropathy as may be reflected in weakness or sensory alterations in a limb or portion of a limb which suffered the trauma.
You state that your sister fell and injured her foot. Now, there's one caveat. Your comment specifically states that ".....neuropathy, MOST PROMINENT on right foot." That suggests to me that the doctors also diagnosed neuropathy in some other part of the body...therefore, one has to be a bit careful before concluding that she did not have any previous baseline status of neuropathy since if there is left side involvement (uninjured side of the body) then, it is possible that she could be manifesting some type of neuropathy for other reasons that need to be investigated in a setting of having also fallen down several stairs as you described.
This is also the reason I recommended that your sister be examined and questioned by a neurologist in order to ascertain EXACTLY what type of NERVE DAMAGE or NERVE DYSFUNCTION (meaning of the term NEUROPATHY) is occurring. If the history is consistent with manifestation of problems exactly and only on the right side of the body, not the left....and if it is true that there was no manifestation of any problem PRIOR to the fall then, the examiner is on much firmer ground to rule in the trauma as the most likely cause to the leg/foot dysfunction.
You state that X-rays were normal, however, again, I've was very specific about suggesting the use of more sophisticated imaging studies which are much more sensitive to compression of nerve roots since they are so small and virtually impossible to see on anything but an MRI scan read by a properly qualified radiologist who is expert at looking for such pathology.
Fractures are not necessary to cause nerve root compression from things such as bulging or herniated discs that could've occurred as well following the fall. Again, this is the reason we prefer imaging studies more highly sensitized to seeing a variety of soft tissue structures rather than X-rays which only look for bony abnormalities.
One final consideration that must be raised is the chance that your sister may not be suffering from a NEUROPATHY at all but rather an ARTHROPATHY meaning that instead of there being NERVE DAMAGE there may instead be JOINT or ARTICULAR damage in the ankle or perhaps the knee and maybe it is for this reason she suffered a spontaneous fall due to excessive weight bearing which caused a sudden collapse of the limb causing her to go down. If she were examined by an orthopod or PM&R specialist then, this question could be easily answered.
Thanks for submitting your inquiry and by all means let me know how things turn out.
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