If you are one of the 29 million Americans with diabetes, you probably know how important it is to control your blood sugar.
One big risk that comes with prolonged high blood sugar is diabetic neuropathy, which can damage your nerve fibers. People who develop the most dangerous kind of neuropathy, sensory neuropathy, experience decreased sensation or even a total absence of any kind of sensation in their feet. This can prevent them from feeling pain associated with things like stepping on a nail or developing an ulcer. If left unaddressed, these wounds can worsen and eventually require hospitalization.
Considering that 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes eventually develop some form of neuropathy, it’s important to seek medical help in the early stages of the condition. Should you experience any of its symptoms, such as tingling, burning, or numbness in your feet or legs, contact your primary care physician. If you’re diagnosed with neuropathy, you’ll likely need at least a yearly checkup with your doctor or a few annual visits with a podiatrist.
Managing Your Diabetic Neuropathy
Usually by the time numbness sets in, it’s unlikely that your neuropathy will get better or improve. But you can manage it with proper medications and self-care. Your doctor will take care of the first part, and it’s up to you to do the second. Make sure to check your feet each day for any signs of redness, drainage, or blisters. Use a mirror or even a smartphone on selfie mode to look at hard-to-see parts of your feet, or ask a friend or family member to help.
Remember, good glycemic control can help keep neuropathy at bay and prevent it from worsening if you’re already showing signs of it.
Complex Foot Wound Clinic for Diabetic Neuropathy
Patients with problems caused by diabetic neuropathy may be referred to Kaiser Permanente’s Complex Foot Wound Clinic, which has locations at the Largo and Kensington medical centers. The clinic provides focused care to patients with diabetes who are at highest risk for developing lower extremity complications, including foot ulceration, infection, and amputation. The goals of the clinic’s team are to prevent major amputations, keep patients out of the hospital and emergency room by finding foot wounds earlier, and initiate treatment immediately.
Read more about neuropathy, including its symptoms, prevention, and treatments, here.