Peripheral neuropathy is the damage to the nerves of the peripheral nervous system, and usually affects people with diabetes and those who are overweight. Its symptoms include pain and numbness on the tops and bottoms of the hands and feet that is similar to the sensation of wearing a glove or stocking.
Dr. Dellon says several separate nerve compressions are usually the cause of the pain. By surgically removing these compressions in his patients, he has been able to relieve the symptoms and return sensation to many of them.
To determine if this surgery is right for someone with peripheral neuropathy, Dr. Dellon offers a simple test: Cross your legs, left over right, then take your right hand and tap the left ankle bone, then the heel bone. There is a soft place between these bones. Extend your foot a little bit and tap that soft place—if there's tingling that goes into the bottom of the foot or the toes, that means the nerve is not normal. However, that tingling does mean that nerve fibers are trying to regenerate, signaling there's a good chance sensation will return to your foot.
Dr. Dellon cautions that this procedure isn't right for every diabetic or everyone with peripheral neuropathy, but he says it's good to know the surgery is out there for people with chronic pain.