If you've recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be concerned about developing chronic nerve pain or other damage to your feet, especially after learning of the high rate of toe, foot, and even leg amputations among the diabetic population. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of diabetic neuropathy and other problems with your feet. Read on to learn more about preventing nerve pain and permanent damage to your feet after a diagnosis of Type I or II diabetes.
How does diabetes cause foot pain?
The effect of diabetes on your feet or extremities largely depends on the type of diabetes you have and how good you are at keeping your blood sugar in a stable range. Those with Type I diabetes are unable to produce enough (or any) insulin and must rely on injected insulin to process sugars; those who are vigilant about this process and administer insulin as soon as their blood sugar spikes are unlikely to have too many negative podiatric effects.
Those with Type II diabetes may be insulin-resistant — even if the pancreas produces the "right" amount of insulin, the other organs may be unable to process this insulin in a way that keeps blood sugar stable. Others may be unable or unwilling to make the dietary and lifestyle changes necessary to keep their blood sugar within an acceptably low range; because Type II diabetes is a chronic illness, one can go a relatively long time without managing their blood sugar before permanent negative effects are felt.
However, consistently high levels of blood sugar can damage the tiny capillaries that carry blood to your eyes, fingers, toes, and the other body parts farthest from your heart. This can prevent sores from healing and lead to ulceration, and in some cases, can even damage the surrounding nerves themselves to cause pain and tingling. This nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy, can prevent you from walking or standing without pain; and the more time you spend off your feet, the more difficult it is to exercise, eat a balanced diet, and engage in other behaviors that help keep your weight down and your diabetes symptoms in check.
What can you to do prevent the development of diabetic neuropathy in your feet or other extremities?
The key to preventing the development of any foot problems after a diabetes diagnosis is keeping your blood sugar as stable as possible. You'll likely want to cut out foods with a low glycemic index (GI) from your diet, as they will spike your blood sugar without providing satiety, and these types of short-term spikes are difficult to manage even with insulin.
You may also want to invest in customized insoles to prevent friction against your feet. Although keeping your blood sugar stable should allow minor cuts and blisters to heal as quickly as they would if you didn't have diabetes, keeping your feet comfortable and cushioned all day will reduce your risk of neuropathic pain and blisters or other injuries caused by friction inside your shoes.
For more information, contact a professional in your area or visit a website like http://familyfootanklephysicians.com/.
I was badly injured a year ago, and it took a long time to get back to my normal level of ability. One of the things that helped more than anything was the time that I spent in physical therapy. I didn’t always love going to physical therapy – in fact, sometimes, I really didn’t enjoy it at all. But ultimately, the therapists and other patients I worked with helped inspire me to get better, and the exercises facilitated my healing process. I started this blog to talk about all of the things I learned about physical therapy and healing during my recovery time. I hope my blog reaches other accident victims. I want to offer encouragement, hope, and information for people who are in the same boat that I was in.