Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes. The nerve damage is permanent. More than 50% of people with diabetes will develop this condition. People who have longstanding and/or poorly controlled diabetes are at higher risk for acquiring diabetic neuropathy.
Patients with this condition have dulled and altered senses in their feet, legs, and hands. These include a person's ability to determine the difference between sharp and dull, hot and cold, pressure differences, and vibration. Patients can also experience loss of muscle control and increased sweating. Diabetic neuropathy often develops slowly. It can be the result of diabetes, but can also show up before the diabetes is diagnosed.
Nerve damage caused by Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy can also cause ulcers or wounds to develop on the feet and other extremities of the body. This occurs because patients who can’t feel their feet will not feel any irregularities in them including minor injuries. Ulcers that develop may go undetected by the patient and can become infected and are often difficult to heal. Ninety-five percent of these wounds occur in the ball of the foot, the tips of the toes, or on the tops of the toes.
Patients with other foot problems such as corns and calluses and ingrown toenails need to need to be properly cared for by a foot doctor since these conditions can lead to earlier formation of ulcers or infection.
Ulcers can lead to amputations of toes, feet, or the legs. They can even lead to death if not caught early. Our clinic wants to help our patients avoid these complications through regular exams and by teaching them how to manage this condition properly.
Signs and Symptoms
If you are experiencing any one of the following symptoms it’s very important to go to your podiatrist to get assessed for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy.
- Pain, burning (particularly at night), or discomfort in your feet or legs
- Numbness or tingling in your feet (can feel like pins and needles)
- Your feet have increased sensitivity when touched
- You have problems feeling hot or cold in your feet
- You have problems feeling your feet when you walk
- Dry feet and cracked skin
- Muscle weakness and/or loss of balance
To diagnose diabetic peripheral neuropathy, our Seattle podiatrists obtain the patient’s history of symptoms and will perform simple in-office tests including the Comprehensive Diabetic Foot Exam on the feet and legs. This evaluation may include assessment of the patient’s reflexes, ability to feel light touch, and ability to feel vibration. In some cases, additional neurologic tests may be ordered.
Treatment of Diabetic Neuropathy
Treatment of diabetic neuropathy includes:
- Physical therapy
- Improved nutrition and vitamins
- Diabetic shoes
- MLS laser therapy
Dr. Rion Berg has vast experience treating diabetic wounds and saving limbs. He's been the Chief Podiatrist for the Wound Care Center at Northwest Hospital for many years.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, call our office to set up an appointment with one of our Seattle podiatrists. You can reach us at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.