Why Healthy Nerves are Important for Feet

nerves and feet

Types of nerves in the human body include autonomic, motor, and sensory. Each of these kinds of nerves plays a certain role in the health and vitality of your feet. Let’s look at these different types and what they do for your lower limbs:

  • Autonomic nerves are responsible for controlling involuntary (and partially voluntary) activities of the body. In other areas, some of these nerves serve to regulate your internal temperature, keep your heart beating, and contribute to digestion. When it comes to foot health, relevant autonomic nerves include ones in the circulatory system—which ensures blood is delivered to and from the lower limbs—and those that control sweat glands (more on this in a moment).
     
  • Motor nerves pass information from your brain to your spinal column and then to the muscles in your body, including those in your feet and lower legs. These nerves basically enable you to move and perform physical activities, such as pushing your foot off the ground with every step you take (and then controlling the foot as it lands).
     
  • Sensory nerves pass information from outer tissues (like your skin) back to the spinal column and ultimately to the brain. At that point, the information is processed, an appropriate sensation is experienced and an action is taken.

All of those respective nerve function only happen, however, when nerves are healthy. There are many potential issues that can have an adverse effect on how nerves perform. This highlights the importance of keeping your nerves healthy.

When autonomic nerves are damaged, a common foot issue is excessive dryness (and especially in the heel areas). This is because sweat glands are controlled by these kinds of nerves – and this makes sense when you consider the fact we cannot sweat on command.

Impaired motor nerve function leads to problems like foot drop, which is a condition wherein the front of the foot drags on the ground when walking. To prevent the dragging, affected individuals will often raise their thighs higher than normal with each step.

Sensory nerve damage is something often seen in conjunction with diabetes, and this can be a very serious combination. The root cause of this problem is elevated sugar levels damage peripheral nerves. When these nerves are unable to report sensory experiences to the brain, small issues can go untreated and become severe medical complications.

Clearly, it is important to make sure your nerves are healthy and functioning at their very best. In the event you develop nerve problems in your lower limbs, we can help! Contact our Palm Desert office today for more information—or to request an appointment for treatment—by calling (760) 568-0108.

Dr. Harvey Danciger
Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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