An estimated 20 million people in the United States suffer from some form of peripheral neuropathy, a condition that affects the normal activity of the nerves that connect the central nervous system — the brain and spinal cord — to the rest of the body.

Peripheral neuropathy can involve various different nerve types, including motor, sensory, and autonomic nerves. It can also be categorized by the size of the nerve fibers involved, large or small.

In the world of podiatry, most cases of peripheral neuropathy are found in the feet and develop from nerve damage caused by diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy can occur in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce the insulin necessary to convert glucose into the energy that the body needs. Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly. It has been estimated that between 60 to 70 percent of diabetics will deal with some form of neuropathy in their lifetime, compared to only a 25 to 30 percent chance for non-diabetics.

The condition can also manifest itself in the feet as a side effect from certain medications, neurological disorders, arthritis or as a result from a traumatic injury. As of today, more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified, each with its own symptoms and prognosis, and are classified according to the type of damage to the nerves have sustained.

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(Get your feet checked at Delray Beach Podiatry & Boynton Beach Podiatry)
(Get your feet checked at Delray Beach Podiatry & Boynton Beach Podiatry)

National Diabetes Month is observed every November to draw attention to diabetes and its effects on millions of Americans.

National Diabetes Month was initially established 40 years ago in 1975, though Congress and the U.S. presidents didn’t start passing proclamations recognizing November as “diabetes month” until the mid-80s.

The American Diabetes Association trademarked “American Diabetes Month” in 1997.

Diabetes is a disease that leads to high levels of blood sugar (glucose). It happens when the body does not make any or enough insulin, or does not use insulin well. Diabetes can lead to serious health problems, but people with diabetes can take steps to manage the disease and lower the chance of health problems.

There are nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States living with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

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If you are currently living with diabetes, it’s important that you know the dangers of neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.

(Base Image: MorgueFile.com)
(Base Image: MorgueFile.com)

This condition can manifest in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce the insulin necessary to convert glucose into the energy that the body needs. Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly.

It has been estimated that between 60 to 70 percent of diabetics will deal with some form of neuropathy in their lifetime, compared to only a 25 to 30 percent chance for non-diabetics.

There are four main types of neuropathy seen in people with diabetes. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the nerves that reach out from the brain and spine to all the parts of the body.

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain and numbness in your extremities to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart.

Other potential complications of diabetic neuropathy include:

The Dangers of Diabetic Neuropathy

Amputation: People with peripheral neuropathy of the lower body may not feel an injury to one of their feet, or may not feel a sore, which can become severely infected. The risk of infection is high because diabetes reduces blood flow to your feet. Infections that spread to the bone and cause tissue death (gangrene) may be impossible to treat and require amputation.

Urinary problems: Damage to the nerves that control your bladder can prevent it from emptying completely. This allows bacteria to multiply in your bladder and kidneys, leading to urinary tract infections.

Low blood pressure: Damage to the nerves that control circulation can affect your body’s ability to adjust blood pressure. This can cause a sharp drop in pressure when you stand after sitting and can result in dizziness and fainting.

Digestive problems: Nerve damage in the digestive system can cause a wide variety of problems, including constipation, diarrhea and nausea. It can also cause gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach empties too slowly or not at all.

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For diabetics suffering from neuropathy, proper foot care is necessary to live a happy and healthy life.

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.

Helpful tips for good Diabetic Foot Care
Dr. Goldbaum’s helpful tips for good diabetic foot care

This condition can manifest in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce the insulin necessary to convert glucose into the energy that the body needs. Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, occurs when the body is unable to use insulin properly.

It has been estimated that between 60 to 70 percent of diabetics will deal with some form of neuropathy in their lifetime, compared to only a 25 to 30 percent chance for non-diabetics.

For diabetics already living with neuropathy, or those who may deal with it in the future, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum of Delray Beach Podiatry has come up with several helpful tips to help keep your feet healthy:

Check your feet regularly: Regular foot checks are an increasingly essential part of diabetes management as nerve damage and reduced circulation caused by diabetes can lead to reduced awareness of pain and slower healing of the foot. Foot problems are one of the most common complications associated with diabetes and it’s important to check your feet daily for signs of damage in order to avoid future problems. In severe cases, poor foot care may lead to amputation of a foot or leg. In fact, even something as minimal as a blister or a sore could lead to an infection or a non-healing wound.

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A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot that can potentially develop into a more serious wound if left untreated.

These ulcers typically take the form of a shallow red crater that involves only the surface skin. In some cases, however, a deep foot ulcer may lead to the formation of a crater that extends through the full thickness of the skin that may involve tendons, bones and other deep structures.

If you suffer from poor circulation due to chronic condition such as diabetes, then you are more likely to develop foot ulcers. In people with these conditions, even a small foot ulcer can become infected if it does not heal quickly.

About 15 percent of all people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their lives.

Who is at risk for foot ulcers?

Although foot ulcers can affect anyone, they are especially common in people who have one or more of the following health problems:

  • Peripheral neuropathy: This is a condition that affects the normal activity of the nerves that connect the central nervous system — the brain and spinal cord — to the rest of the body. Diabetes – both Type 1 and Type 2 — is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy. When nerves in the feet are damaged, they can no longer warn about pain or discomfort, which allows normal wounds to develop into painful ulcers.
  •  Circulatory problems: Any illness that decreases circulation to the feet can cause foot ulcers. Less blood reaches the feet, which deprives cells of oxygen, thus making the skin more vulnerable to injury and slowing the foot’s ability to heal.
  •  Foot Abnormalities: Any condition that distorts the normal anatomy of the foot can lead to foot ulcers. This is particularly true if the foot is forced into shoes that don’t fit the foot’s altered shape, such as high heels.

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