Studies have shown that almost 50% of individuals who have diabetes for many years will develop peripheral neuropathy, or problems with the nerves in your arms and legs. Most individuals who have mild neuropathy are unaware of it due to the subtlety of the symptoms. The nerves in your body have to main jobs, relay information to your brain (sensory nerves) or your brain to your muscles (motor nerves). Those that sense or feel send signals for pain, hot or cold, and light touch among others. It is the nerves that react to light touch that are most susceptible to damage from diabetes and uncontrolled sugars. Because there is some forms of sensation still present, it is easy to be fooled into thinking everything is fine. Many times small scraps or injuries that are not noticed can become infected or increase in size before you notice. As foot specialists, we see too many individuals who don’t seek out treatment until irreversible damage has been done. We at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists urge anyone with diabetes to make regular visits to see us.
The best way to prevent neuropathy from occurring is to keep your blood sugars under control. With the help of your family physician, endocrinologist, diabetes educator, dietician, and Austin podiatrist, good sugar control can prevent, and sometime reverse symptoms of neuropathy. Early intervention can keep symptoms from becoming worse. In advanced cases of neuropathy, constant burning or tingling sensations can become unbearable and may require special medication or other treatments to manage.
We offer a free book to help you better understand diabetes and your feet. The more you know, the better prepared you are to identify problems and keep your feet in good shape. Early loss of light touch can be easily detected through a routine podiatric examination. If this is elicited from your examination, we will discuss the daily foot exams you should do at home to detect what your nerves no longer can. You can identify problems early this way and seek our proper care.
Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!