Neuropathy can affect your entire body, but most often the legs and feet are the body’s most prone areas to serious health problems. Damage to the nerves can cause the loss of feeling in your feet, making it difficult to detect extreme temperatures and pain as easily or readily as someone who does not have diabetes. This is why diabetics get infections so frequently from something as simple as a small cut or blister on the foot. With that being said, understanding the connection between foot care and diabetes is important to avoid more serious health problems.
What is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?
Typically, in diabetic peripheral neuropathy of the feet you will begin to notice sensory changes such as numbness or tingling in your toes. Initially, these symptoms may come and go, but, in time, will be constant. When experiencing these symptoms, they may interfere with your sleep, or cause you to awaken from your sleep. Over a period of time, these disturbances may cause a loss of feeling that may even hinder your ability to detect the tightness of your shoes. Even a pebble in your shoe can go unnoticed as time goes on, which can injure your foot.
Neuropathy is the leading cause of ulcers or holes that occur in the feet, as well as infections. Additionally, neuropathy is the leading cause of the loss of toes and even amputation, with advanced cases. If nerve compression goes untreated, the nerve itself can become deprived of oxygen and nutrients, which cause the nerve to die over time resulting in numb feet. In many patients, surgery can be performed to relieve these various sites of nerve compression in order to relieve the burning, tingling and pain, or even to restore sensation to your feet in some cases.
One of the main goals of treatments is to manage the condition that is causing your neuropathy. Once the underlying cause is corrected, neuropathy will often improve on its own. The second goal of treatment is to relieve the painful symptoms you might be experiencing. Initially, you might be prescribed medication to relieve the pain of neuropathy. If medications do not provide the relief a patient needs, other therapies will be recommended.
Neuropathy treatment may only stop the progression, but it will not reverse the damage. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may help to relieve symptoms, as adhesive electrodes are placed on the skin to deliver a gentle electric current through the electrodes at varying frequencies. If you suffer from neuropathy due to pressure on nerves, you may need surgery to reduce the pressure.
Early detection, simple care and regular inspections can go a long way to avoid serious foot complications related to diabetes. Diabetes is serious, especially when it comes to your feet. If you have diabetes, talk with your podiatrist about what you can do now to keep your feet safe, strong, and healthy.
To learn more about neuropathy and treatment options,
call Optima Health & Vitality Center in Eau Claire, WI at (715) 832-1953.