Of the 16 million Americans with diabetes,
25% develop foot problems related to the disease. This is primarily due to
a condition called neuropathy. Diabetic Neuropathy is a complication of
diabetes that affects the nerves. The most common type of diabetic
neuropathy is called peripheral neuropathy and affects the peripheral
nerves. Peripheral nerves are the nerves that go out from the brain and
spinal cord to the muscles, skin, internal organs, and glands. Peripheral
neuropathy impairs proper functioning of these sensory and motor nerves.
The most common symptoms of neuropathy include numbness and loss of
feeling, usually in the feet and hands.
Diabetic Neuropathy can cause insensitivity
or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering
from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure
sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these
minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to
ulceration and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause
deformities such as Bunions, Hammer Toes, and Charcot Feet.
It is very important for diabetics to take
the necessary precautions to prevent all foot-related injuries. Due to the
consequences of neuropathy, daily observation of the feet is critical.
When a diabetic patient takes the necessary preventative footcare
measures, he or she reduces the risk of developing serious foot
Treatment and Prevention
The most successful way to prevent diabetic
neuropathy from occurring is to control the diabetes. It is important to
maintain blood sugars at normal levels and maintain normal blood pressure.
In addition to this, it is important to:
- Stop Smoking
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Have regular physical exams
- Have regular blood and urine tests
- Exercise regularly, according to your
It is important for diabetics to treat
their feet properly to avoid any future problems. Footwear and foot
orthotics play an important role in diabetic footcare. Footwear that fits
poorly can cause irritation and injury. Orthotics designed with Plastazote®,
the #1 material for protecting the insensitive diabetic foot, are also
frequently recommended. Plastazote is a material designed to accommodate
pressure “hot spots” by conforming to heat and pressure. By customizing to
the foot, Plastazote provides the comfort and protection needed in
diabetic footcare. Footwear constructed with Plastazote is often
recommended for the diabetic patient.
- Diabetic footwear should also provide
the following benefits:
- High, wide toe box (high and wide space
in the toe area)
- Removable insoles for fitting
flexibility and the option to insert orthotics if necessary
- Rocker soles, designed to reduce
pressure in the areas of the foot most susceptible to pain, most notably
the heel and the ball-of-the-foot.
- Firm Heel Counters for extra and support
It is important for diabetics with
neuropathy to take the necessary precautions to prevent injury and keep
their feet healthy. If you have diabetes and are experiencing a foot
problem, immediately consult with your foot doctor.
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