This morning, for the first time in a very long time, I got medical test results that actually definitively pointed at a specific problem. Not only that, but it’s something that could actually potentially be addressed for a change. Then I went to an evaluation for physical therapy and got even more interesting information. Let’s review, shall we?
First off, about a month ago I had a nerve conduction study performed on my left foot area, because of major numbness and loss of sensation in my big toe and the one next to it. It turns out that this is not part of my usual peripheral neuropathy! Instead, the diagnosis is an unexpected one: tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is the lesser-known sibling to the common carpal tunnel syndrome we all fear in my line of work. Something is compressing the tibial nerve, causing damage and the resulting numbness and other symptoms.
From here out is where things might be considered TMI, especially if you’re squeamish about medical things, so I’m going to tuck it into a spoiler box to protect sensitive eyeballs. There’s nothing creepy, just kinda deeply medical.
My neurologist and podiatrist suspect that the varicose veins I’ve developed over the last 25 years or so are responsible. This could also explain why I’ve had leg swelling lately. So they’ve recommended I find someone to look into that.
Less than an hour later, I was in physical therapy, being evaluated for work to begin on treating the foot that’s been so painful. Over the course of a very long exam, a few new things came up:
- At first glance, it looks like lymphatic edema, in which fluid buildup results in swelling. This can also be a cause of varicose veins.
- Over the course of the discussion, and after some research, I suspect it’s more likely chronic venous insufficiency. This is more in line with the specific symptoms and the situation as it stands, as well as the explanation that was given to me as to what seems to be going on.
- This is all probably unrelated to my usual neuropathy, although that assessment could be mistaken.
So basically, what seems to be happening is that some of the veins in my legs have lost the battle against gravity and have stopped properly feeding back up to my heart, resulting in swelling and other yucky things. This has progressively worsened for many years now, until finally the swelling began to impinge upon nerves, causing pain which haws continued to worsen.
Fortunately, there are things we can do!
- First, the therapist is going to use compression equipment and exercises to try to encourage that fluid to migrate upward. This will let us see if it improves my comfort level. It is not a permanent fix, though. If it helps, then we evaluate how to correct that problem over the long term.
- We then (or also, depending) look at having the non-functioning veins closed off so that they don’t keep sidetracking blood flow away from veins that still function.
Something for which we have plans of attack! This is unheard of for me! I’m actually quite excited. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.
Please, please let this actually respond to treatment… just once, I need that to happen.