More than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage in the feet, is one of the most common—and most serious—complications of the disease. Nerve damage causes burning, tingling, heaviness, or numbness in the feet and affects up to 70 percent of all diabetic patients.
“Neuropathy can be a rather scary aspect of diabetes because patients may not be able to feel pain,” said Jeff Merrill, DPM, a podiatrist at Klamath Falls Foot and Ankle, LLC and a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “If you can’t feel an injury or sore, it could lead to a serious infection.”
People with diabetes have a harder time healing from infections, and even a minor sore or blister could ultimately lead to amputation. Dr. Merrill says it’s important to try to prevent nerve damage before it happens, and to take extra precautions if you do experience symptoms.
Podiatrists recommend the following tips to help prevent peripheral neuropathy:
If you do experience diabetic nerve damage, foot care becomes even more critical. “It starts at home with daily checks on your feet,” said Dr. Merrill. “Check your feet for any injuries and for changes to the skin, hair, or even temperature of the skin. If you can’t see your feet well, try propping up a mirror, or ask friends or family for help.”
Dr. Merrill recommends patients with peripheral neuropathy never go barefoot because of the risk of injuries. People with peripheral neuropathy should see a podiatrist regularly to help catch any changes in their foot health early.
“Regular foot care—both at home and in your podiatrist’s office—is essential to avoid serious complications from diabetes,” Dr. Merrill said. “If you have diabetes, and especially if you have experienced symptoms of nerve damage, it’s critical to make foot health a priority.”
Click on the graphic below to download your free peripheral neuropathy PDF fact sheet.
Jeff Merrill, DPM is a podiatrist at Klamath Falls Foot and Ankle, LLC in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Call 541-850-6463 or visit www.klamathfallsfootandankle.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org/diabetes to learn more about foot health and diabetic nerve damage.
Klamath Falls Foot and Ankle, LLC Staff