April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, a perfect time to focus on the importance of keeping our feet healthy. This should be a priority for everyone, and especially for people with diabetes.
Diabetes poses a significant danger to foot health, specifically through the threat of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, also known as diabetic nerve pain. When high blood sugar levels go untreated for a long period of time, it can damage the nerves, leading to peripheral neuropathy. This causes numbness and sometimes pain and weakness, most often in the hands, legs or feet.
Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, affecting about 20% of diabetes patients. Because it is frequently unreported, it is estimated that nearly 40% of the patients with it go untreated.
Be aware of the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy:
- Numbness, loss of feeling
- Tightness and tingling
- Burning, shooting or stabbing pain which gets worse at night
- Weakness and loss of balance.
It's encouraging to know that well-controlled blood sugar levels can slow or prevent the development of peripheral neuropathy.
Lifestyle modifications include:
- Following a diet low in simple carbs and high in fiber
- Exercising, if permitted by your physician
- Regularly checking your hands, legs and feet for any sores
- Reporting this to your physician immediately so it can be treated before it becomes worse.
Compliance in testing your blood sugar levels, as prescribed by your doctor, is of primary importance:
- Check your meter on a regular basis with the control solution to make sure it is working properly.
- If you are taking insulin and/or oral meds, discuss the correct methods to take these medications with your doctor and/or pharmacist.
- Ask about side effects and what to do to minimize them.
This topic is especially personal to me because of a sad, but true story from my own family. A relative of mine had uncontrolled diabetes. He thought he could eat anything, including sweets, as long as he gave himself a few extra units of insulin. He rarely checked his hands or feet. He was overweight and did not do any form of exercise. Unfortunately, he developed a sore on his leg and because his sugar levels were not being well-controlled, he ended up losing his leg.
By proactively controlling your diabetes, many of the complications associated with diabetes, including peripheral neuropathy, can be prevented. You can start fresh today!
To learn more about foot care, click here.
The information provided within this site is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with your physician or healthcare provider.