Why You Should Pay Attention to Diabetes and Foot Pain
People who suffer from diabetes are prone to neuropathy and issues in the feet. Discover here why you should pay attention to diabetes and foot pain.
Do you have diabetes and sometimes feel a tingling or numb sensation in your fingers or toes?
Then, you may be one of the 50 percent of people with diabetes who has nerve damage as a result of diabetic neuropathy.
There are four types of diabetic neuropathy, and you can have more than one. Diabetes peripheral neuropathy impacts your feet, legs, and even your arms and hands.
Left unmanaged, it can lead to further complications, including the loss of one or both feet.
Do you have both diabetes and foot pain? Keep reading to learn more about how to care for your feet.
What is Diabetes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Diabetes peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve damage caused by poorly managed diabetes and the resulting prolonged high blood sugar.
At present, scientists don’t fully understand why high blood glucose levels do such enormous damage to your nerves.
At the same time, there is a clear and intricate relationship between your nerves and blood vessels. One theory suggests that correlating high blood pressure or cholesterol cause inflammation, which damages the nerves. Another theory suggests
The damage leads to tingling or numbness in your peripheral extremities. You are more likely to experience it in your toes and feet first, which is why you shouldn’t ignore foot pain or numbness if you have diabetes.
In some cases, you may even feel a pain – burning or sharp – in those places. It may start mild but can become more intense and spread from your fingers and toes up through your limbs, causing movement to range from painful to unbearable.
Can Peripheral Neuropathy Be Reversed?
Once your nerves are damaged, you can’t reverse it. All you can do is work to prevent further damage and manage the pain that results from the existing damage.
To stop further nerve damage, you need to monitor your blood sugar carefully using both your insulin as well as diet and exercise. Your doctor may recommend lowering your blood sugar before meals to 70-130 or 180 after meals.
You also need to avoid other lifestyle risks that contribute to poorer health and diabetes outcomes. Avoiding tobacco and cigarettes are common suggestions from physicians.
It may also be a good idea to look at supplements for any vitamin deficiencies. If you are on metformin, you may benefit from a B-12 supplement because a B-12 deficiency is a common side effect of the drug. Extreme vitamin deficiencies can exacerbate both blood sugar issues and nerve damage as well as cause other health issues.
How Do You Treat Nerve Damage?
In most cases, you control the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs_ including Tylenol, Advil, or aspirin. However, you should tell your doctor if you need to take these drugs regularly as they aren’t approved for long-term use.
Patients with severe nerve damage and severe pain while moving may also seek out other options.
Other potential treatments may include using antidepressants, usually tricyclic antidepressants to manage your symptoms. These drugs intercept the chemicals that cause you to feel pain. SNRIs offer the same mechanisms but with fewer side effects compared to tricyclic antidepressants.
Your doctor may also suggest anti-seizure drugs, which help with nerve pain. Pregabalin (Lyrica) both improves nerve pain and helps improve your sleep. Sleep loss is common when you suffer from chronic pain.
If nothing else works, your doctor may recommend opioid-like drugs, such as tramadol or even opioids such as oxycodone. However, the risk of addiction combined with the lack of approval for long-term relief means these drugs are a last resort.
How to Care for Your Hands and Feet During and After Nerve Damage
Nerve damage isn’t only painful. The loss of feeling can also lead to further complications like infection or even amputation.
You need to check your feet in particular daily for injuries or swelling. If you get a cut or sore and don’t notice, it can lead to infection, which is a small problem that can become a significant issue very quickly.
See your doctor if you discover:
- A sore or cut that won’t heal
- A sore or cut that shows signs of infection
- Pain, weakness, or burning in your hands and feet that interferes with your daily life
- Changes in your digestion
- Changes in urination
Podiatrists recommend washing your feet daily and inspecting them as you work. You should then dry them with a towel and cover them in lotion. Don’t apply the balm between your toes if you have diabetic neuropathy.
You should also wear shoes that help you avoid blisters or sores. They should give you plenty of flexibility, so you have room to move. If you struggle with swelling, then consider custom shoes to give your feet plenty of room. Diabetes-friendly footwear can help you walk more comfortably and protect your feet.
Custom shoes can also help you combat the loss of coordination that commonly indicates diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Finally, the shoes support your feet if they become deformed. The changes in your weight balance can lead to walking with a strange gait. This, in turn, leads to deformities like hammertoe, which is particularly problematic for people with diabetes because you already have a higher risk of infection.
Don’t Ignore Diabetes and Foot Pain
If you have both diabetes and foot pain, you may be experiencing the early or even advanced stages of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Unfortunately, the nerve damage is permanent, but you can slow the process by managing your blood sugar levels carefully and taking steps to protect your feet from deformities and infection.
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