About Foot Pain Due to Diabetes
Foot problems plague people who have diabetes. Not only are these conditions painful, they can also be very dangerous for the diabetic and must be attended to immediately.
The most common foot problem due to diabetes is peripheral neuropathy, according to Dr. Kenneth B. Rehm, DPM. The nerves have been compromised or are being destroyed by the disease, which can result in autonomic neuropathy, sensory neuropathy or motor neuropathy. Sensory neuropathy can be so acute that pulling a sheet over a diabetic's foot can cause him pain. Dr. Rehm explains that the degree of pain that the individual is experiencing is not in proportion to the assault (e.g. the bed sheet) causing it. Pain can occur even when the diabetic's foot is numb. Sensory neuropathy is described as a stabbing, tingling or burning pain. Blood sugar that is consistently and persistently high also contribute to this problem.
A diabetic's muscles may feel achy and weak. The thigh muscles are generally among the first to be affected by diabetes along with the small muscles of the feet and the shin muscles. Walking imbalances occur when motor neuropathy is present. When this happens, the foot may repeatedly rub against the inside of the shoes, which makes callouses form, inflames the skin and results in foot pain.
Sweating Mechanism Is Altered
A diabetic's sweating mechanism is changed when autonomic neuropathy occurs. As a result, dry toenails and cuticles will occur, as will thickened nails. The skin will crack, and thicker callouses may develop due to the cracked skin, causing even more pain. Fungal and bacterial infections are likely, and these are painful conditions.
Damage to Capillaries
Capillaries in the bodies of diabetics can get stiff and thicken, unable to deliver nutrients and oxygen efficiently to the tissues in the feet and elsewhere. Diabetics may have arteries that are full of fatty deposits, which thicken the artery walls. Calcium deposits may develop as well. When this happens, blood flow to the feet can be blocked. This can be terribly painful as the tissues become desperate for oxygen.
Circulation Problems in the Feet
Arteries deliver fresh blood to oxygenate and nourish body tissues. Blood first enters and then leaves the tissues via the capillaries. It then returns to the heart, where it gets nourished by way of the veins and refreshed with oxygen. If there are circulation problems, which frequently occur in diabetics, this can cause extreme pain because the blood isn't getting to the feet. This pain can occur even if the foot is numb.
When an individual has diabetic neuropathy, tendons can become stiff and contracted and the muscles can atrophy. Joint and muscle pain in the feet can result. Peripheral neuropathy can cause to walking imbalances, which leads to joints in the foot--as well as the entire foot--not moving the proper way. The foot may become bent and stiffen, which occurs because of the high levels of blood sugar hooking up with proteins and settling in the joints, a condition that is referred to as diabetic glycosylation of the joints. These walking problems can lead to tiny fractures accompanied by dislocation of the foot bones, hammer toes, spurs and bunions. These problems can lead to ulceration, pain, infection and serious medical concerns.
According to Dr. John M. Giurini, DPM, FACFAS, an ankle and foot surgeon in Boston, peripheral neuropathy can be both painful and potentially deadly. Neuropathy is the main cause of foot ulcers in people who have diabetes. Nearly a quarter of all diabetics who develop ulcers will require an amputation. If you are experiencing numbness in the toes, or tingling and burning in the feet, this can also indicate nutritional deficiencies, pinched nerves, back problems or a problem with your thyroid. Pay attention to these symptoms, particularly if you are a diabetic