Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy and Its Effects on the Feet

Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that causes damage to the nerve cells. This can result in pain and numbness in any part of the body like the digestive system, the urinary tract, the blood vessels and the heart but it most often affects the nerves in the legs and feet.

Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy and Its Effects on the Feet
Diabetic neuropathy can be peripheral, autonomic, proximal or mononeuropathy and they are diagnosed depending on the area that they affect.

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type and it affects the feet and legs first and if not controlled, may slowly move upwards affecting hands and arms. Symptoms in the feet include:

  • Numbness
  • Inability to feel hot and cold sensation
  • Inability to feel pain
  • Tingling
  • Burning sensation inside feet
  • Cramping
  • Sharp or shooting pain
  • Pain and sensitivity to touch
  • Foot ulcers, infections
  • Bone and joint pain
  • A diabetic who has peripheral neuropathy could have one or more of the above symptoms. People with diabetic neuropathy need to monitor their feet regularly.

Taking Care of Diabetic Feet at Home

  •  Inspect feet regularly for corns, calluses, cuts, injuries, etc. Since the diabetic will have decreased sensation in the feet, an injury or infection may get overlooked.
  •  Wear well fitting shoes that are wide and do not cause shoe bites or friction.
  •  Avoid walking barefoot to prevent injuries.

Also Read: How To Protect Your Legs and Feet If You Have Diabetes

Regular Podiatric Consult Is a Must

Apart from taking care of the feet at home, a diabetic with peripheral neuropathy must see a podiatrist regularly. The podiatrist will help in maintaining foot health and provide treatment that will help decrease pain and improve quality of life. Oral medication may be prescribed to help with symptoms. A thorough foot check will be performed regularly to check for injuries and infections. You will also be educated on how to take care of your feet at home. Diabetics with peripheral neuropathy should consult a podiatrist at least once a year.


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