The holiday season is in full swing, and for patients with diabetes, monitoring sugar intake can make a big difference in the health of their feet. Diabetes patients with frequent spikes in or uncontrolled blood sugar are more likely to be affected by peripheral neuropathy caused by damaged nerves and blood vessels in the legs and feet. While the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can start as mild for some patients, they can grow to be quite painful and affect their mobility and quality of life.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy
Research regarding peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients has found that uncontrolled blood sugar can have a two-pronged effect on the nerves in the feet and legs. First, spiking sugar levels can interfere with the nervous system’s ability to send signals to the brain and then weaken the walls of the small blood vessels that supply the nerves with oxygen and nutrients. This damage slows blood flow to the lower limbs, and as a result, feet and toes have to wait longer to receive oxygenated blood. Risk factors beyond uncontrolled diabetes, including being overweight, smoking, or having kidney disease, can worsen symptoms in patients.
What Are the Symptoms
Peripheral neuropathy mainly occurs in the feet, legs, and occasionally hands and fingers in more advanced cases. Reduced blood flow to these areas of the body can cause symptoms that include:
- Tingling and burning sensations in the feet and legs
- Sharp pain or cramping
- Muscle weakness
- Extreme sensitivity to temperature or touch
Patients with decreased sensitivity in their lower limbs are also at an increased risk for injury to their feet, including ulcers, joint damage, frostbite, and infections from open wounds.
How to Treat Peripheral Neuropathy
While the damage done to nerves from diabetic neuropathy is not reversible, seeking treatment from your podiatrist is crucial to prevent progression. The best way to treat and prevent the advancement of peripheral neuropathy is to take control of blood sugar spikes. Blood sugar control can include consistently taking prescribed diabetes medication or monitoring diet and sugar intake.
If you have experienced neuropathy symptoms in your lower limbs, we recommend seeking treatment immediately. A podiatrist can examine your feet to check for any underlying injury or infection that can lead to complications. After a thorough examination, they can recommend treatment options, including pain medication, exercise, or custom orthotics to help reduce pain and increase mobility.
Diabetic neuropathy in the lower limbs is a serious condition that can significantly affect your overall health and should be treated immediately. Make your health a priority and call (717) 757-3537 to make an appointment at any of our five locations in Hanover, York, Lititz, and Lancaster, PA.