Your Idaho Falls & Rexburg Foot & Ankle Specialists
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Our Foot and Ankle Services
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes. When it affects the arms, hands, legs and feet, it is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is different from peripheral arterial disease (poor circulation), which affects the blood vessels rather than the nerves.
Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
The nerve damage that characterizes diabetic peripheral neuropathy is more common in patients with poorly managed diabetes. However, even patients living with diabetes who have excellent blood sugar (glucose) control can develop diabetic neuropathy. There are several theories as to why this occurs, including the possibilities that high blood glucose or constricted blood vessels produce damage to the nerves.
Nerve Groups Affected By Peripheral Neuropathy
- Sensory Nerves: Enable people to feel pain, temperature and other sensations
- Motor nerves: Control the muscles and give them their strength and tone
- Autonomic nerves: Allow the body to perform certain involuntary functions, such as sweating
Common Symptoms Include:
- Numbness or tingling in the feet
- Pain or discomfort in the feet or legs, including prickly, sharp pain or burning feet
- Muscle weakness and loss of muscle tone in the feet and lower legs
- Loss of balance
- Changes in foot shape that can lead to areas of increased pressure
- Dry feet
- Cracked skin
- Obtain the patient’s history of symptoms
- Perform simple in-office tests on the feet and legs.
- Assess the patient’s reflexes
- Ability to feel light touch
- Ability to feel vibration
- In some cases, additional neurologic tests may be ordered.
- Get control of the patient’s blood sugar level.
- Medications to relieve tingling/burning symptoms
- Physical Therapy to help reduce balance problems or other symptoms
Prevention of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
- Keep blood sugar levels under control.
- Wear well-fitting shoes to avoid getting sores.
- Inspect your feet every day. If you notice any cuts, redness, blisters or swelling, see your foot and ankle surgeon right away. This can prevent problems from becoming worse.
- Visit your foot and ankle surgeon on a regular basis for an examination to help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.
- Have periodic visits with your primary care physician or endocrinologist. The foot and ankle surgeon works together with these and other providers to prevent and treat complications from diabetes.