Foot Care in Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is a common diabetes complication that is a result of nerve damage. Coupled with blood vessel damage, this condition can pose serious threat to the feet as it can lead to ulcers, infections, and even foot amputation.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
High blood sugar levels cause changes in the blood vessels and nerves. This leads to progressive damage and causes many complications. When damage occurs to the nerves, it is called diabetic neuropathy. High blood glucose levels cause the gradual destruction of nerve cells of both peripheral and autonomic nerves.
When diabetic neuropathy affects the peripheral nerves, it is called peripheral neuropathy. Since there is loos of blood flow in diabetes, the farthest parts of the body get affected first. This leads to damage of nerves in the feet. It causes tingling sensation in the feet, loss of sensation, pain, and numbness. It can even lead to numerous other conditions like ulceration and infection.
Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy – Feet
- Sharp pain
- Tingling sensation
- Deformities as a result of loss of nerves in muscles
- Heat/burning sensation
- Formation of sores and blisters
Diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy is done by testing Plantar Pressure Distribution with tests like Podia Scan and Biothesiometry. These tests indicate:
- Vibration perception
- Sensation in the feet with pin prick
- Presence of diabetic neuropathy
- Presence of peripheral vascular disease
- Risk of foot ulceration with pressure distribution on feet while walking
Once the presence of diabetic neuropathy is confirmed, it is very important to manage the condition. Often, reducing nerve pain with pain medication, and application of topical creams like capsaicin are practiced.
Vitamin supplementation, advice on proper foot care, prescription of diabetes shoes and tight blood sugar control are also part of the treatment. In some cases, anti-depressants, and anti-epileptic medications are also sued to treat diabetic neuropathy.
How to Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy
It is known that nerve damage starts much before the diagnosis of diabetes. In fact, nerve damage might even start in the prediabetes stage; however, it is possible to control diabetic neuropathy.
- Attain target blood sugar levels
- Reach target HbA1c
- Avoid alcohol
- Speak to a diabetes doctor about vitamin supplementation (B1, B6, & folate) for diabetic neuropathy
- Get biofeedback or physical therapy
- Talk to your doctor about acupuncture
It is very important for people with diabetic neuropathy to examine their feet and look for changes. They are advised to wear diabetes footwear and avoid undue mechanical pressure on the feet. This reduces the chance of many diabetic foot problems.