More than half of the nearly 30 million people living with diabetes will also suffer from the effects of neuropathy, a condition that often leads to wounds and further complications in the feet.
What is neuropathy?
With diabetes, excess blood glucose can damage the small blood vessels that nourish the nerves. Damaged nerves often cause muscle weakness and loss of sensation, while damaged blood vessels can cause tingling, pain, numbness or weakness, often to the hands and feet first. This loss of or change in sensation, called neuropathy, often leads to wounds in the feet due to excessive pressure or trauma to the foot.
The loss of sensation means the loss of a protective feeling. For example, a rock in your shoe could go undetected and cause a blister or laceration. This injury, if left untreated, can lead to a more serious wound or, eventually, amputation.
How do I know if I have it?
Neuropathy can be diagnosed easily and painlessly. A Wound Care Center nurse uses a thin plastic wire and touches the skin on the foot. Your response to the stimuli determines the positive or negative outcome of the test.
How do I prevent or delay nerve damage?
Proper foot care is essential for avoiding further complications. Here are just some of the privative measures those with neuropathy can take:
- Inspect your feet daily for redness or sores.
- Wear supportive, well-fitting footwear (no sandals).
- Protect your feet and never go barefoot.
- Wash feet daily and dry between the toes.
- See a professional for nail and foot care.
- Check the temperature of bath water before stepping in.
- Report symptoms or worsening symptoms to your physician.