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Are Neuropathy and Neuritis The Same?
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Are Neuropathy and Neuritis The Same?

I have been experiencing an aching pain and tingling in one of my feet for over two years now. I tried to ignore it because it doesn't bother me all that much. The pain seems to improve when I walk, but it does not disappear altogether.  Recently, I put on a new pair of pumps and experiencing electric shock (for about a minute).  After that I decided that I needed to go to a doctor. My regular MD thought my problem was a peripheral neuropathy and referred me to a neurologist.

The neurologist gave me a physical exam.  He said it was normal because I have no numbness or decreased sensitivity and my strength is normal too.  Instead of giving me what he called electrical tests, he told me that I did not have a neuropathy, that I probably had neuritis or a pinched nerve in my foot.  

What is the difference between a neuritis and a neuropathy?  I thought that they were the same. Are the causes and outcomes different for the two?  Also, wouldn't nerve problems be handled by a neurologist and not a podiatrist?  Anything you could tell me would help a lot.  Thank you.

Chris
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Dear Chris:

The definitions of the two are slightly different.  Neuritis just means inflammation of a nerve, where neuropathy is a process involving either a cranial nerve or spinal nerve.  Actually the two may be the same in some instances.  Usually with a sensory neuropathy or motor neuropathy it involves either the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve or the nerve or axon itself.  It may or may not have an associated loss of muscle strength (motor neuropathies usually do have loss of muscle strength).  Numbness and tingling would be more of a sensory neuropathy.  Since your condition travels along the nerve we would say neuropathy, however, sensory neuropathies travel down a nerve and therefore would not be going up your leg.  A neuritis might have a numbness or tingling that could travel up your leg.  Therefore, you might have a neuritis.  The outcome would depend on the cause of the problem, so I have no answer for your condition.  A neurologist is usually a person who would look after your condition, but a podiatrist might also be helpful.  Sorry, I am not much help.  It is very difficult to tell you what is going on without examining you.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD

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Hi Chris,
I have the same problem in both feet. I work on my feet and have developed pain that is aching/burning and drives me crazy in the morning and much of the day. I also do not have a neuropathy and was tested for just about everything including lyme,thyroid, arthritis, etc. Supposedly I read that you can get a neuritis from wearing innapropriate shoes(pumps are the worst) or repetitive strain from structural foot problems. I am going to see a podiatrist. I think you should see a podiatrist next for two reasons. 1. They can treat a neuritis or pinched nerve.  2. I was over- tested and I am very glad that doctors are thorough, but it was frightening and worrisome. If you have a neuritis from other causes that are peripheral etc. you'll end up back there anyway. Good Luck!!! I hope that both of us have something as simple as a temporary neuritis.

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