The disease of diabetes has several conditions associated with it that can have serious consequences for the health of your feet. One that we at Paul S. DeMarco, DPM want to urge our patients to be on guard for is peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is another word for nerve damage. In our bodies there are 3 types of nerves: sensory (control our ability to experience sensations), motor (affecting muscle control) and autonomic (helps perform automatic body functions like sweating). Neuropathy can affect all three types of nerves.
What’s the Risk?
In all cases, damage to the nerves in the feet can make it more difficult to experience the symptoms that indicate an injury or infection. Ulcers and wounds are highly dangerous to a patient with diabetes because reduced circulatory and immune system function make healing very difficult and the end result can be systemic infection of the body or amputation. If you have decreased sensation in your feet you may not notice that you stepped on something sharp and cut your foot or a case of athlete’s foot will not be detected until it’s at the blister stage. If motor nerve function is impaired, a patient may be off balance and more likely to trip and fall. Nerves that are inhibiting automatic systems such as sweating may lead to overly dry or cracked skin. All of these situations greatly increase the risk of injury and wounds.
The good news is that you can be proactive in detecting neuropathy and preventing the consequences that can result. Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to your feet. If you notice a change in shape, a tingling or burning sensation, overly dry skin that doesn’t seem to respond to moisturizing or any other unusual symptoms, report them to our podiatrist, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco.
- Make your podiatrist your partner in diabetic health care. Schedule regular appointments at our Somers Point office to monitor your feet and handle basic care.
- Wear properly fitting shoes. Shoes should be made of soft material with a roomy toe box. Avoid high heels and any shoe that puts pressure on one area of the foot or rubs anyplace on your skin.
- Keep your diabetes under control. Following your physician’s instructions and keeping your blood sugar under control is the best way to prevent neuropathy and other complications from diabetes.
If you have additional questions about diabetes and your feet, contact us at: (609) 927-4894.