Diabetic Foot Care

“Sometimes I feel like I have socks or gloves on when I don’t”, “my feet hurt at night”, “I feel burning or shooting pains in my feet”, “my feet are numb and I can’t feel my feet when I’m walking”, do these sound familiar to you?

People who experience sensations of tingling, ‘pins and needles’ or numbness in the feet may not think too much of them. However, if these symptoms persist, they may signal a condition known as neuropathy, or nerve damage, which could lead to bigger problems.

Neuropathy refers to a medical condition where nerves are damaged. Neuropathy is caused by a variety of reasons including diabetes, alcohol consumption, genetic predisposition, infection, cancer, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins and diseases that cause chronic inflammation involving the nerves, as well as other unclear causes. Among all, diabetes is the most prevalent cause of nerve damage and it is known as diabetic neuropathy in medical term. It happens when nerves or group of nerves are damaged as a result of high blood sugar level.

Diabetic foot care

Most people take foot care for granted. To the diabetics however, caring for the feet is a very serious matter with unfortunate consequences if neglected. Why is this so? Because nerve damage can cause reduced or loss of sensation in the feet, sores and small injuries may go unnoticed and become badly ulcerated, infected and difficult to heal. The healing process is also compromised by poorer circulation in diabetics. Eventually, amputation of the toe, foot or even lower leg may be necessary if treatment is no longer possible. While you may know that diabetes can lead to amputation, you may not know that the actual cause of amputation is nerve damage which can actually be avoided with proper nerve care.

Amputation and foot ulceration are common and serious problems among diabetics. Yet they can be prevented or delayed if identified and dealt with early on. The American Diabetes Association recommends that adult diabetics have annual health screenings to detect diabetic neuropathy. Such a check includes noting down your history, physical foot inspection, neurological tests and screening for diabetic peripheral neuropathy (ie. nerve damage of the legs and arms). There are five simple clinical tests for diagnosing peripheral neuropathy of the legs and arms. They include tests for pinprick sensation and ankle reflexes, vibration testing using a tuning fork and testing using a device known as a biothesiometer.

Tight blood sugar control, appropriate dietary control, proper foot care, regular exercise and stop smoking are important to prevent or delay neuropathy and its complications.

Foot care tips

Proper foot care is necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of amputations.

  1. Inspect your feet daily to check for cuts, sores, blisters, cracks, redness, swelling or other problems. Use a mirror or get help from someone else if you cannot see the bottoms of your feet.
  2. Wash your feet daily with warm water and a mild soap. Dry them with a soft towel and dry carefully between your toes.
  3. Moisturize your feet with lotion, but avoid getting lotion between your toes.
  4. Cutting your toenails regularly.
  5. Avoid walking barefoot to prevent injuries on the feet.
  6. Wear shoes that fit well. Break in new shoes gradually by first wearing them for only an hour at a time.
  7. Before putting your shoes on, look them over carefully and feel the insides of with hand to make sure there is no objects inside that might hurt your feet.
  8. Attend to foot injuries promptly.
  9. Have regular foot exams with a doctor who will be able to identify problems sooner than you.

Benefits of Vitamin B1, B6 and B12 in Diabetic Neuropathy

Neurotropic B vitamins nourish and help regenerate nerves; these vitamins are thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12). Vitamin B1 is involved in energy metabolism, helps in maintaining the myelin sheath which covers the axon of nerves, and in the synthesis of key signaling molecules in the nervous system known as neurotransmitters. Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters (key signaling molecules in the nervous system). Vitamin B12 is involved in nerve cell maturation and regeneration, nerve cell metabolism and formation of nerve myelin sheaths.

In populations at risk of neuropathy, especially diabetics, early detection and treatment of neuropathy is crucial to avoid irreversible damage to nerves.

 

Read more about the benefits of vitamin B1, B6 & B12 in diabetic neuropathy, click here.

The information contained in this article is not intended or designed to diagnose, prevent, treat or provide a cure for any condition or disease, to ascertain the state of your health or be substituted for medical care. Merck encourages you to seek advice from your doctor or healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns arising from the information in this article.

References:

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