Of the 16 million Americans with diabetes, 25% develop foot problems related to the disease. This is due to a condition called neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the nerves. The most common type of diabetic neuropathy is called peripheral neuropathy and affects the peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves are the nerves that go out from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, skin, internal organs, and glands. Peripheral neuropathy impairs the proper functioning of these sensory and motor nerves. The most common symptoms of neuropathy include numbness and loss of feeling usually in the feet and hands. Burning, tingling, heat, or cold sensations are also common symptoms.
Diabetic neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. It is very important for diabetics to take the necessary precautions to prevent all foot-related injuries. Due to the consequences of neuropathy, daily monitoring of the feet is critical. When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative footcare measures, he or she reduces the risk of developing serious foot conditions.
Treatment and Prevention:
The most successful way to prevent diabetic neuropathy from occurring is to control the disease. It is important to maintain blood sugars at normal levels and maintain normal blood pressure. In addition to this, it is important to
- Exercise regularly, according to your doctors advise
- Have regular urine and blood tests
- Limit your alcohol
- Stop smoking
- Have regular exams
It is important for diabetics to treat their feet properly to avoid problems. Footwear and orthotics play an important role in diabetic footcare. Footwear that fits poorly can cause irritation and injury. Orthotics designed with Plastazote, the #1 material designed to accommodate pressure, "hot spots", by conforming to heat and pressure. Customizing Plastazote to the foot provides comfort and protection needed in diabetic footcare. Footwear constructed with Plastazote is often recommended for the diabetic patient. Diabetic footwear should also accommodate any foot irregularities such as bunions, hammertoes, callouses, etc. Prescription medication is available to address neuropathy pain. All persons with diabetes should consult with their doctor regarding proper foot care.