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.
Dr. Jeff Merrill introduces RevitaDERM 40 Keratolytic Emollient and shares before and after photos
from a patient who used it daily for one month. Music: « Summer » from Bensound.com
Containing aloe vera, tea tree oil, chamomile, and prescription strength 40% urea, RevitaDERM 40 Keratolytic Emollient exfoliates and hydrates the skin while quickly and effectively removing calluses. It's also safe for diabetics. It comes with a free pumice stone and brush, and is available for purchase in the 4 oz. jar size for $30 at our office.
To celebrate Foot Health Awareness Month, we're giving away one jar of RevitaDERM 40 Keratolytic Emollient with included pumice stone and brush. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. One winner will be chosen after this giveaway ends on 4-23-19 at 12 am PST. Winner must pick up their prize at our office in Klamath Falls by 5-23-19. Must be 18 or older to win. Our winner will be contacted by email.
Amputations Due to Diabetes Can Be Prevented: Diabetes Patients Urged to Take Simple Precautions to Help Save Their Feet
Taking a minute or two every day to inspect your feet and observing a few simple rules can make the difference in sparing diabetes patients from a preventable outcome of the disease – a foot amputation.
“Of all diabetes-related complications, a serious foot ulcer and subsequent amputation might be the most preventable with proper care and vigilance in checking the feet at least once a day for small cuts and other abrasions,” says Jeff Merrill, DPM, AACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). “Even those with good control of their blood sugar can experience foot ulcers, especially if neuropathy, a frequent diabetes complication, has caused decreased feeling on the bottom of their feet.”
Loss of sensation inhibits the body’s normal pain response. As a result, walking can apply repetitive, unfelt pressure to a wound, making it larger and deeper. Left untreated, diabetic ulcers lead to serious infections, which may result in amputation.
Dr. Merrill says foot and ankle surgeons use a variety of surgical and non-surgical methods to heal diabetic ulcers, but stressed early intervention yields the most favorable outcomes.
“Daily self-exams are the best protection. Too often, patients fail to check their feet for small cuts or punctures that over time will ulcerate and become infected,” he says. “If you have diabetes and see anything suspicious on your feet, consult a foot and ankle surgeon for diagnosis and treatment. Even a few days can make a difference in preventing serious foot problems from developing.”
An estimated seven in ten diabetes patients have nerve damage that impairs feeling in their feet. Fifteen percent eventually will develop a foot ulcer. Among those with ulcers, one in four will lose a foot. Each year more than 86,000 amputations are performed as a direct result of diabetes, and studies show half of those who have one foot or leg amputated will lose the other within five years. Proper diabetic foot care, says Dr. Merrill, prevents foot loss.
In some cases, amputation might be the preferred option. If vascular and podiatric surgeries can’t improve blood circulation and foot function, resolve infection or restore foot function, amputation may be the only solution that enables the patient to heal. Today, advances in prosthetics make it possible for patients to return to an active lifestyle, a necessity for keeping diabetes under control.
Foot problems are not an inevitable consequence of diabetes. The risk can be lessened significantly by following a few simple precautions:
For more information on diabetic foot conditions, contact Dr. Merrill's office at 541-850-6463, or visit the ACFAS consumer Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.
Klamath Falls Foot and Ankle, LLC Staff