One of the more painful symptoms of diabetes is numbness and pain in the feet, which can be diagnosed by a trained foot doctor. Also called diabetic neuropathy, this pain is caused by nerves being damaged by high blood sugar levels in the body. Each patient experiences diabetes differently, but those who develop new symptoms of tingling, numbness and sharp or aching pains in the feet should report these experiences to the doctor. Once diabetic neuropathy sets in, it can be hard for the patient to return to full health, so it is important to take care of the feet and work towards improving the condition overall. Regular visits to the podiatrist can help diabetic patients look for symptoms.
The importance of regular foot examinations
There are several ways that diabetic neuropathy can manifest in a diabetic patient, so take the time to understand the symptoms. Ask an experienced professional about particular symptoms and how to improve foot health.
When to see a foot doctor
According to the Mayo Clinic and the American Diabetes Association, diabetic patients ought to visit the foot doctor once a year for a full foot examination. In addition to this annual appointment, patients should regularly inspect feet for cuts, blisters and sores that can quickly lead to infections. The wounds of diabetic patients often heal at slower rates than healthy patients, so a small wound could lead to larger complications. If a patient experiences dizziness, digestion problems or weakness and pain in the hands, then it is a good idea to visit a doctor.
Types of diabetic neuropathy
There are four main types of nerve damage related to diabetes. All of these diabetic neuropathies can start in the feet and lead to extensive health problems:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Radiculoplexus neuropathy
- Autonomic neuropathy
Most symptoms related to these nerve damages have a slow onset, so it is a good idea for diabetic patients to take notes on certain dates if a new ache or pain is experienced. Repeated painful sensations, especially in the feet, are a good reason to visit a podiatrist and discuss options for recovery.
Conditions for higher risk
While diabetic neuropathy can happen to any patient with diabetes, there are a few factors that can lead to it being more likely to occur. These can include a long history of diabetes or a general inability to control blood sugar. High weight or obesity, a smoking habit and the presence of kidney disease can also contribute.
If a patient has any of these conditions, then it is a good idea to speak with a diabetic specialist and a foot doctor about lifestyle management. Making healthier dietary and personal choices can help reduce the chances of developing nerve damage in the feet and legs.
Diabetes, unfortunately, comes with a wide variety of painful and potentially harmful symptoms. Patients who visit a foot doctor or podiatrist at least once a year can gain a better understanding of foot health and reduce chances of developing diabetic neuropathy.
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