Imagine stepping on a sharp object and not realizing that you’ve injured your foot. You feel nothing, but you could be on your way to developing a serious infection. In fact, this lack of feeling could be only the beginning of an even more threatening health crisis.
This condition is actually a common problem called peripheral neuropathy (PN). It’s often associated with diabetes, but that’s not the only cause. It can also result from smoking, alcoholism, cancer, drugs, or even vitamin deficiencies.
The term neuropathy means “a disease of the nerve.” That’s because nerves are damaged or destroyed, interfering with the ability to feel and touch. And the discovery often comes too late.
Damage to the peripheral nerves spreads out to the arms, legs, fingers, feet and toes. If blood flow to your feet is impaired or interrupted, infections are harder to fight off.
The good news: serious foot issues can be resolved if caught early. Early diagnosis is everything – it’s a lifesaver.
How do you keep in front of potential danger? By checking your feet every day. It sounds simple enough, but this is not a common habit among most people. You have to make it an everyday priority to detect and report any early warning signs.
The most common symptoms are weakness, numbness, tingling, burning, and painful sensations. More specifically, see your doctor if you experience:
- redness, bruising or swelling
- loss of balance or coordination
- bone or joint pain
- intense reflexes, especially in the ankle
- sharp pains or cramps
- muscle weakness
- cuts, cracks, peelings or sores
- infections of the skin or toenails
- blisters or ulcers
- calluses or corns
Don’t take even the slightest-looking sore lightly. Minor sores that don’t heal can turn into ulcers. In many cases, untreated foot ulcers can become gangrenous (that’s when the tissue dies).
According to the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, 70% of diabetics have PN. Some types of PN happen suddenly, while others develop slowly, over the course of years.
Treatment for neuropathy varies – the goal is to manage the disease and relieve symptoms. Treatments can range from over-the-counter pain relievers to prescribed painkillers, as well as anti-seizure medications and topical treatments.
Over the past ten years, there has been a 65% decline in diabetes-related amputations. This can be attributed to more widespread use of therapeutic shoes, as well as improvement in overall diabetes management and awareness.
In particular, ergonomic shoes help to relieve neuropathic symptoms, providing both additional support and comfort. They also help stabilize the heel and arches, as well as provide plenty of breathing room for toes.