How to Live With Diabetic Foot Numbness

Because of the nerve damage common among the 24 million diabetics in America today, they often lose feeling in their feet, which may lead to unnoticed burns, cuts, friction sores and other troubles. "About 60 to 70 percent of all patients that develop diabetes in their lifetime will have some form of neuropathy, which is the loss of protective sensation, and therefore, increases their risk of having a foot problem," said Crystal Holmes, a certified wound specialist and podiatrist at the University of Michigan Health System.

And once a foot wound develops, if the diabetic can't feel the pain ordinarily associated with it, the problem could worsen into a significant health threat. "Something that normally would cause a person to stop, notice that there's an issue and seek help, that whole event is delayed in someone who has neuropathy and diabetes," said Holmes.

Neuropathy is generally caused by such diabetic factors as high blood glucose and injury to blood vessels that normally supply nerves with oxygen and nutrients. Here are some ways a diabetic with neuropathy can keep his feet healthy. -- Look at your feet every day to check for cuts, sores, etc. -- Wash your feet in warm water daily. Dry them well, especially between the toes.

-- If you think your feet might burn, as at the beach or on hot pavement, wear shoes. If you think they might be feeling cold, wear socks; don%u2019t use hot water bottles, heating pads or electric blankets. -- Take time to shop carefully for shoes that are comfortable and well-fitting. Break them in by wearing them just one or two hours a day for a few weeks.

 -- Trim toenails regularly. Cut them straight across and file the edges with a nail file. In addition, Holmes said, diabetics should have their doctor check them regularly, control their blood sugar through medication, adopt a healthy diet, and exercise for 30 minutes a day.


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