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Foot Problems and Diabetes

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Foot Problems and Diabetes

By Nina Nazor

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Foot problems in people with diabetes are caused by high blood glucose levels that affect the nerves of the feet and impair proper blood circulation.

Nerve damage to the extremities caused by diabetes is called diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

What is diabetic peripheral neuropathy?

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a chronic complication of diabetes that affects as many as 50% of all people with diabetes. However, despite of this, health care providers often do not address it correctly.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy has two main manifestations. On one side, we have a person who has no feeling in his or her lower extremities, increasing the risk of having a foot problem and in consequence, the loss of a limb.

On the other side, there is a person who feels constant pain, and her or his life is seriously affected since pain limits mobility, impairs sleep, hinders the enjoyment of leisure time activities, and affects overall quality of life.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy with loss of sensation

The fact is that foot complications of diabetes are a terrible burden because they are the main cause of amputations that are not due to an accident, and this has an enormous economical and social impact.

If you have diabetes, and experience loss of sensation, you can hurt your feet and have a wound without being aware of it. That’s why it is so important to take care of your feet every day, because many foot ulcers would be avoided by regular examination of the feet, access to appropriate care, and the use of proper footwear.

What are the symptoms of non painful diabetes neuropathy?

Usually the person feels the affected part:

·  Asleep

·  "Dead"

·  Numb

·  Tingling

·  Prickling

To find out if you have loss of sensation, your doctor most probably would use a device called Semmes-Weinstein monofilament, which assesses pressure perception when gentle pressure is applied sufficient to buckle the nylon filament. It helps identify if you are at risk of foot ulceration.

Another instrument frequently used, assesses in a semiquantitative manner the perception of vibration and has similarly been shown to be a useful predictor of foot ulcer risk.

If you have non painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy, you require education in daily foot care, and regular visits to the podiatrist. Please take it very seriously, since prevention is the key to keep your feet healthy.

If you ever detect any wound, sore or blister during your daily foot care check up, wash it immediately with warm water and mild soap. If you notice that the wound starts getting red, hot, swollen and/or painful, rush to see your doctor.

If a wound gets infected, your doctor might try different approaches, from antibiotics to revascularization surgery, so that damaged tissue gets both the medications and enough blood flow. These measures are aimed at saving that part of your body.

Note that the cause of foot problems is not only diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves, but also peripheral vascular disease, which added to the nerve damage, causes poor circulation in your extremities. These two factors, neuropathy and vascular disease, contribute to increased risk of infection and poor wound healing.

So, prevention is the key. Take care of your feet routinely as if they were your most valuable asset. You will never regret investing 5 minutes after your daily shower to take care of them.

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