Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage that can be caused by diabetes. It occurs when blood sugar levels are uncontrolled, and there are high amounts of glucose in the bloodstream. As a result, nerves become damaged in the feet and legs. This condition is dangerous for diabetics because it can cause numbness in the feet, making it difficult to detect an injury or wound. A person with neuropathy may not realize they have an injury until it becomes infected and leads to a serious complication. Dealing with diabetic neuropathy

Knowing the signs of neuropathy and taking care of your feet can help prevent wounds from becoming serious problems. A diabetic foot specialist is an important part of your diabetes management team and can show you the proper way to care for your feet to keep them healthy.

Risk Factors and Common Signs of Neuropathy

Having a history of diabetes and not controlling your blood sugar levels put you at risk for neuropathy, but other factors can increase your risk, as well.

Health Risks for Neuropathy

  • Having kidney disease
  • Being overweight
  • Being a smoker
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Having a foot deformity such as a bunion or hammertoe

If you are diabetic, it is important to know the signs of peripheral neuropathy and to contact a podiatrist if you have symptoms.

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Pain that worsens at night
  • Tingling
  • Sharp, shooting pains
  • Loss of feeling or numbness
  • Changes in the temperature or appearance of your feet
  • Increased sensitivity to touch
  • Burning sensation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Dry, cracked skin

Peripheral neuropathy develops slowly and can worsen over time, and this nerve damage and a loss of sensation can put you at risk for serious foot problems. Because diabetes can inhibit your body’s ability to heal, diabetic patients are prone to developing foot ulcers that can quickly become infected or not heal properly. If you have signs of a foot ulcer, do not ignore them since infected sores can be extremely dangerous and have serious complications.

If you have diabetic neuropathy, it’s important to watch for signs of a foot ulcer, so you can treat it early for the best chance of healing.

Signs of a Foot Ulcer

  • Visible drainage or blood on your socks
  • Redness and swelling
  • Foul odor

A podiatrist will evaluate your foot ulcer and recommend treatment options based on the severity of the condition.

Caring for Your Diabetic Feet

There are various ways you can care for your diabetic feet at home, and our Texas podiatrists have suggestions for how to protect them.

Protecting Your Diabetic Feet at Home

  • Check your feet daily to look for any abnormalities or signs of injury
  • Wash your feet with mild soap and warm water, and make sure to dry them thoroughly
  • Never soak your feet for long periods or in hot water
  • Use lotion to keep your feet soft and moisturized, but do not apply moisturizer between your toes
  • Always wear socks to protect your feet
  • Never walk barefoot
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and have cushioning
  • Keep your toenails trimmed straight across, and if you can’t, a podiatrist can help
  • Schedule regular exams with a podiatrist to check for signs of neuropathy and to prevent complications associated with the condition

In addition, if you notice any foot wounds or open sores on your foot that are not healing, contact a podiatrist immediately before the problem worsens and leads to something more serious. Untreated foot wounds can become infected, and the infection can spread to surrounding tissue or bone. If the infection cannot be stopped, amputation is often needed to save your life.

Contact an Experienced Texas Podiatrist

If you have diabetes and develop a wound on your foot or have signs of peripheral neuropathy, Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can help. We can answer any questions you may have and develop an individualized treatment plan based on your specific needs. To request an appointment or a consultation, contact our Grapevine or Keller office by filling out our convenient online contact form or by calling our office at 817-481-4000.