August 23, 2016

With Peripheral Neuropathy, Foot Protection Is Key

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy with this condition affecting about 60 to 70 percent of all persons with diabetes. It damages nerves in the feet, legs, arms, and hands.

Symptoms include:
  • Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain, altered sensations, and changes in temperature, especially in the feet
  • A tingling, burning or prickling sensation that begins in your toes or the balls of your feet and gradually spreads upward
  • Sharp, jabbing or electric shock-like pain that’s worse at night
  • Extreme sensitivity to the lightest touch or no feeling at all
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Muscle weakness and difficulty walking
  • Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone/joint pain
  • Loss all feeling in the affected limb/limbs (for example if you get a small rock in your shoe, you might not feel it and continue walking on it, causing further injury to your foot)
Knowing the symptoms means that you must take action. Most people with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy do nothing and ignore their feet. This is when ignorance can cause an amputation. Am I scaring you yet? I hope I have your attention because being part of a support group has taught several of us many valuable lessons and caring for our feet is as important as managing diabetes. Examining your feet, especially the bottom of your feet daily should be as important to you as taking a blood glucose reading. It's important to protect your feet from injury, especially if you have little or no sensation in them. This means wearing good shoes or slippers, even indoors.

In the Southwest, patients should shake out their shoes before they put them on just in case a scorpion crawled in.

Foot protection is the key issue with peripheral neuropathy. Take care of your feet on a daily basis and if your doctor is not inspecting them, get yourself set up with a podiatrist for at least twice a year foot inspections. It is always wise to be safe rather than have an amputation.

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