The Effect of Diabetes on Foot Pain
Experiencing pain in your feet is a common issue that occurs in people with diabetes. The complication can be present in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Your chances of developing this issue can increase the longer you have had diabetes, but the biggest risk factor is if you struggle to keep your blood sugar level under control. People who are overweight, smoke, or suffer from certain health conditions, like heart or kidney disease, are also much more likely to develop the condition.
Why does Diabetes cause Foot Issues?
Known as diabetic neuropathy, diabetic foot pain primarily results from damage that high blood sugar can cause to your blood vessels and nerve endings. Many people also experience similar issues in their hands. However, the feet are usually the most affected area. This is because their distance from the heart makes them far more prone to issues with poor circulation than other parts of the body.
Common Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Neuropathy
The combination of poor circulation and damaged nerve endings can result in pain and increased sensitivity in the feet. However, it can also have almost the opposite effect by making your feet or legs feel numb, weak, or experience tingling or burning sensations.
Diabetic neuropathy can also greatly increase the chances of foot injuries. This is because many people with the condition often can’t feel heat, cold, or pain in their feet, which makes it much easier to suffer an injury without realizing it. The poor circulation also means that any foot injuries will generally heal much slower. This is because the lack of blood flow makes it more difficult for immune cells to get to wounds and repair the injury.
The combination of these issues is usually why some diabetics may eventually need to have their feet or limbs amputated. Specifically, diabetes shrinks the arteries and makes it more likely for the person to develop ulcers or open sores. Since any wounds will heal more slowly, they can easily get infected and potentially lead to gangrene. In addition, the fact that the person can’t feel the pain means that they may not notice the infection until it has progressed to a much more advanced stage. This is true of major wounds, but even seemingly minor issues like toenail infections can possibly have the same effect if not properly treated.
How to Overcome Foot Pain caused by Diabetes
If you notice any pain or tingling in your feet, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A podiatrist is generally the best option for diabetic foot care since they specialize in the feet. In most cases, the podiatrist will perform a diabetic foot exam to check your feet for any injuries. The doctor will also make sure that you don’t have any fungal infections or skin issues like cracked skin, calluses, blisters, or other problems that could increase your risk of injury or infection. They may also check the blood flow in your feet and your reflexes and sensitivity to touch.
Depending on the results of the exam, there may be a number of options that can help. For instance, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infections, or the doctor may recommend surgery to correct any bone abnormalities. You may also be prescribed medication to help with the pain or physical therapy to help improve your strength or balance.
The doctors at Marion County Podiatry have years of experience in diabetic foot care and can help you to overcome whatever issues you’re facing. If you notice any numbness, tingling, or injuries in your feet, contact us today to get the treatment you need.