As diabetes comes to dominate the nation’s health care system, you can count on the number of foot problems requiring treatment from podiatrist/physician to increase as well.
The American Diabetes Association reports that that 23.6 million children and adults in the U.S. had diabetes in 2007, almost eight percent of the U.S. population and a number that is expected to rise every year as obesity and its attendant health problems increase. In addition, the association reports that 17.9 million people were diagnosed diabetics that year, while 5.7 million people were undiagnosed. The association states that 57 million people are pre-diabetic. One result of diabetes that is not as well known among the general population is the foot pain and foot problems that can and often arise in diabetics.
Many diabetics are plagued with a variety of foot problems, from severe pain to numbness to the inability to feel any pain on the bottom of your foot. (We know of one diabetic who walked out barefoot to the front yard of his desert home in the middle of summer only to discover when he went back inside that the skin on the bottom of his feet had burned off. He hadn’t felt a thing!)
There are generally four different types of foot pain, the most common being when the nerves in your foot or on the foot’s skin have been affected. This is called peripheral neuropathy and it takes the form of three different sub neuropathies, autonomic, motor and sensory.
Sensory is the most common and its symptoms are such that even gently pulling on your socks or just touching your feet can cause excruciating pain. Sensory neuropathy also can give you stabbing pain, burning, tingling and numbness.
If you find you have a lot of foot pain, first check your blood sugar levels and make sure they are where they should be.
If you suffer from autonomic neuropathy you may find that your diabetes has altered how and when you sweat, so you may find your feet are dry or cracked and that they have build up large calluses and thickened nails.
Motor neuropathy affects your muscles; they become achy and weak and while your feet muscles probably will be the last affected in this case, you may find your balance is off or shaky.
More and more podiatrists are becoming experts in managing foot pain in diabetics. A visit to a podiatrist is a good step for you as you learn to alleviate and manage any foot pain you may have.
I personally recommend what is called Comprehensive diabetic foot examination on yearly basis to prevent amputation in diabetic population. Ask your foot doctor about this comprehensive exam that is recommended by American Diabetic Association.
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