You may not realize that having diabetes poses a real threat to your feet, but it’s true. Neuropathy is a dysfunction of one or more of your peripheral nerves and usually causes numbness or weakness. Chronically high blood glucose levels can damage your peripheral nerves, causing dysfunction.
Most often, diabetic neuropathy causes damage to the nerves in your legs and feet. Your symptoms may be mild, such as occasional numbness or tingling, but they may also be quite serious. You may not even be aware of your diabetic neuropathy until serious damage has already occurred.
About half of people with diabetes have nerve pain. Although you can’t heal the damaged nerves, you can take steps to prevent further damage, as well as to protect your feet.
When you have diabetic neuropathy, you can’t feel things as well as you once were able, so your feet are more susceptible to wounds like blisters and cuts. Those sorts of small wounds are more likely to develop an infection when you have diabetes, so protecting your feet should be a priority for maintaining your health.
Nerve pain can be a burning sensation, a sharp pain, an ache, or a tingling feeling. It may spread and worsen over time.
Diabetic neuropathy can make even the softest touch painful, so if you’re feeling the pain in your feet, walking may be out of the question.
Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription pain relievers, physical therapy, or other methods of dealing with the pain.
The Problem With Numbness
If your diabetic neuropathy involves numbness in your feet, you need to be extra vigilant about protecting them. For example, if the lining in your shoe is torn, you may not realize it. If the torn edges rub a raw spot on your foot, you run the risk of infection.
Having diabetes means that the blood circulation to your feet isn’t optimal. Less blood flowing to your feet means that your body can’t fight infection as well. Your risk of having an amputation is much higher when you have diabetes.
There are a few things you can do to protect your feet:
- Carefully inspect your feet each day, looking for raw spots, blisters, cuts, warm areas, or swelling.
- Wash your feet with warm water daily, and dry them thoroughly.
- Use lotion to keep your skin soft so that it doesn’t dry out and crack.
- Always wear socks and shoes, even inside.
- Trim your toenails straight across, and come to our office if you can’t.
Visit Us Annually
Even if you take careful care of your feet and you don’t have any obvious problems, if you have diabetes, you should have an annual appointment with a podiatrist. They’ll examine your feet to make sure you don’t have any warning signs of advancing neuropathy or other conditions related to your diabetes.
If you have trouble with caring for your feet, such as trimming your toenails or dealing with calluses, you should have appointments with us more often, but a yearly talk with a specialist is minimal. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and make sure that your care routine for your feet is adequate for your circumstances.
Book your appointment at Alliance Foot & Ankle online or by phone today, and make sure your feet are as healthy as they should be.