Although flat feet affect a significant part of the population, so does diabetes. Like those with flat feet, people with diabetes can develop foot pain. However, the foot condition that affects diabetics is called diabetic distal symmetric sensory polyneuropathy, better known as diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that results in the loss of sensation in the feet. Diabetic neuropathy often develops from poor blood circulation and nerve damage in the feet.
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Poor blood circulation can occur in diabetics when the arteries harden from: smoking; high blood pressure; high fat levels in the blood; high blood sugar. When arteries harden, the feet receive poor blood flow which also slows down healing. Poor blood supply symptoms include:
- Cold feet
- Leg pain during walking
- Foot pain while sleeping
Nerve damage can be a hazardous condition. This is because it is through the nerves that the brain registers sensations. Someone with nerve damage may not realize that they have an injury such as a cut or blister. If not taken care of, these minor foot injuries can develop into ulcers, and if the ulcer isn't taken care of, gangrene can develop which can lead to amputation.
Nerve damage symptoms include:
- Pins and needles, pain, or shooting pain in the feet
- Numbness in the feet
- Burning sensation in the feet, especially on the soles
Preventing foot problems - There are many things that can be done to prevent foot injury and alleviate discomfort. The following are some preventative tips -
Tip 1 -Monitor your blood sugar levels and carefully follow the diet provided by your health care provider. Controlling your blood sugar helps lower the risk of nerve damage.
Tip 2 - Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, lose weight, quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and reduce stress.
Tip 3 - Wash your feet daily with tepid water and mild soap. Dry your feet thoroughly, particularly between the toes. Also, inspect your feet daily for blisters, cuts, color changes, or any other signs of injury.
Tip 4 - Maintain short toenails by cutting the nails straight across. Be sure to file down any rough edges.
Tip 5 - Wear shoes that are properly fitted to your foot and provide you with support. Your toes should be able to move freely, and you shouldn't have to "break in" the shoe. Avoid wearing heals or shoes with pointed toes or going barefoot (even in your home). Ask a podiatrist for recommendations.
Tip 6 -Have your doctor examine your feet on a regular basis (at least annually) to check for poor circulation or nerve damage.
Treating foot problems - If you have developed an injury or condition, keep the following in mind:
Corns or calluses - Never try to remove these on your own, or with over-the-counter treatments. The skin on your feet is very sensitive and you don't want to risk causing further injury. Have a podiatrist remove them.
Cuts or blisters - Use a mild antiseptic to clean the injury such as liquid savlon. Cover the injury with fresh gauze and surgical tape - not a band-aid.
Pain - if you are experiencing pain in your feet, try taking general pain relief medication such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, these pain relievers may not be enough, and you may require prescription meds from your doctor.
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When to seek the assistance of your doctor - Although it is not necessary for you to bring every cut or blister to your doctor or podiatrists attention, you should seek medical attention when:
- An injury or cut becomes red or does not heal within 2 days.
- You develop throbbing, swelling, heat, pain, or discoloration in your feet.
Remember, most diabetic foot pain issues can be prevented when you take care of yourself and your feet, and you respond quickly to problems.
Grab your copy of Dave Wilson's free Foot Pain newsletter overflowing with ideas for natural cures for footpain along with more information on recognizing the different foot pain symptoms. Discover what to do if you have diabetes and foot pain.
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