What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Do you have diabetes? Are you experiencing a loss of sensation in your feet?
Neuropathy is a medical term that refers to abnormal nerve function. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to this abnormal nerve function in any type of diabetes. The nerve areas affected most in all types of diabetes are in the feet and legs.
Research has shown that maintaining normal blood glucose levels can improve the symptoms of neuropathy.
In addition to neuropathy, diabetes also affects circulation in the small blood vessels in the feet. This reduced blood flow can prolong healing in diabetics and can increase the risk of infection.
Symptoms and Risks of Diabetic Neuropathy
Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Symptoms you may experience with diabetic neuropathy include:
- Loss of pain sensation
- Inability to differentiate between hot and cold or sharp and dull sensations
- Inability to experience pressure or vibration
- Burning sensation in the toes and upwards in the foot
- Sensation like walking on cotton or a water-filled cushion
- Cold feet
Risks Involved with Neuropathy
Because you don’t have sensation in your feet, you may experience an injury and not realize it. While cutting your toenails, you can nick your skin and not feel it. If you walk barefoot, you can step on something sharp but have no sensation of pain.
Reduced blood flow to the feet also makes you more prone to developing infections. If you have corns or calluses on your feet, this means your feet are experiencing pressure. Skin ulcers can develop under the corns or callus. In fact, ulcers can develop without your realizing it.
There are precautions you can take against these risks, including:
- Inspecting your shoes to make sure no objects are in them before putting them on
- Not walking around barefooted
- Checking your feet daily for cuts or infections
- Not soaking your feet in hot water or using heating pads (to prevent burning and not noticing it)
- Keeping regular visits with your podiatrist
HOW CAN DR. SCIORTINO HELP?
Diagnostic Tools and Treatment
The World Health Organization suggests that diabetic patients visit their podiatrists at least every six months to have their feet checked.
In addition to a diabetic foot exam, Dr. Sciortino can perform a test that measures whether or not you have proper blood flow to your legs and feet. It’s easy, quick and accurate. If he finds that you may be at risk due to reduced blood flow, he will refer you to a vascular specialist to ensure you receive all the care you need to successfully manage this health risk.
If you need diabetic shoes through Medicare, we can refer you to an excellent diabetic shoe fitter who will dispense shoes and inserts to you.
If you have diabetic neuropathy, or think you might, please visit Dr. Sciortino regularly!