Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy occurs when the nerves outside of the brain become damaged. Peripheral neuropathy causes weakness, loss of sensation or numbness and pain most commonly in the hands and feet. There are several causes of neuropathy, including infection, injury, inherited conditions, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Diabetes & feet
If blood sugar is not well controlled, a person with diabetes will be more at risk for developing complications. Complications are more likely to occur in the feet because the small blood vessels and nerves are susceptible to damage due to high sugar levels circulating in the blood. Less than optimal circulation can affect your ability to heal from minor cuts and scrapes. Poor circulation is further compounded by peripheral neuropathy as the feet may not be able to sense injury when nerve sensation is affected. This is known as altered protective sensation and it manifests as pins and needles, numbness, hypersensitivity, and pain.
Is neuropathy in the feet serious?
The short answer is yes. A lack of protective sensation is serious as it impairs your ability to sense injury. This is dangerous because you may not be able to feel injury occur and therefore it may become much worse before it’s discovered. Something as benign as a small rock in a person’s shoe can become a devastating injury to a person with neuropathy. If skin breakdown occurs from injury, it can lead to serious infection if left untreated.
Lessen your risk for injury:
- Inspect feet twice daily for scratches, blisters, redness, hot spots or oozing.
- Always wear something on your feet for protection, such as indoor footwear.
- Wearing light-coloured socks will make it easier to see blood or pus if an injury does occur.
- Ensure your shoes are empty before wearing them – give them a shake!
- Buy shoes later in the day as swelling can accumulate, making feet larger.
- Avoid smoking as it can decrease circulation to the feet.
- Wash feet daily and make sure to clean well in between the toes – use a mild soap and then dry well.
- Apply moisturizer to the tops and bottoms of feet if the skin is dry avoiding in between the toes – dry skin cracks easily which could lead to an infection in the feet.
- Avoid wearing socks that are too tight – this can restrict blood flow.
- If sock seams create an indentation in the skin turn them inside out.
- Do not use anything sharp on the feet such as scissors or razors to remove callus or corns.
- Avoid the use of medicated corn pads as they contain an acid that could harm healthy skin.
BioPed Footcare will help you prevent complications in your feet:
- We have lower limb clinicians who will assess your feet regularly for changes. This includes completing a Diabetes Risk Assessment during an appointment to determine your risk for complications.
- Select locations have Registered Chiropodists and Advanced Footcare Nurses who will safely treat your nails and skin and monitor your foot health for changes.
- We will make sure your footwear fits properly to support and protect your feet. The right fit, including the correct length and width, is crucial for avoiding friction or pressure sores on the feet.
- Custom made foot orthotics can play a key role in preventing injury. They are also beneficial for wound healing as our clinicians can effectively offload existing wounds and cushion high pressure areas.
- We believe in the importance of education. We will advise on what can be done at home to promote better foot health.
Your local BioPed Footcare team is here to support you and your foot health. If you have neuropathy or have started experiencing numbness or tingling in your feet, find the BioPed closest to you at bioped.com/locations to make an appointment with one of our lower limb clinicians today!