Burning, tingling, numbness to your feet?! Does this sound familiar? Are you a diabetic? If you are, and are experiencing some or all of the symptoms, you are experiencing classic signs of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. If there is a history of diabetes in your family or you are not sure, then the information below could save your life.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is actual nerve damage that results from diabetes. Anyone who is a diabetic or knows a diabetic understands the havoc it can wreck on the body. The nerves are included in this path of destruction and this includes the nerves to your lower extremity and your feet. The damage to the nerves in your feet, can lead to open wounds (ulcerations). Ulcerations can lead to amputations. How does this happen?
Diabetes can affect the motor nerves which controls the muscles in your body. Damage to these types of nerves produces weakness in the muscles. This weakness can affect your balance. Loss of motor nerve function also causes loss of the tone of the muscle (atrophy of the muscle). This causes your foot to lose its original shape and produce areas of increased pressure. This increased pressure can cause breakdown of the foot which can cause breakdown in the skin can turn produce ulcerations.
Diabetes can affect the autonomic nerves which affects your skin's ability to maintain moisture. This loss of moisture makes your skin dry. Dry skin can lead to cracking, and this cracking in your skin can lead to ulceration.
A particularly devastating effect diabetes has is on the sensory nerves. This numbness, burning and/or tingling is the loss of sensation you may be experiencing. This can affect part of your foot, your whole foot, or even your entire lower extremity. This loss of sensation means a loss of your body's ability to perceive increased pressure areas or changes in temperature. This loss of natural protection puts you at risk for ulcerations.
When you hear of a diabetic losing part of his or her foot, or one or both legs, you can now understand why this at any time could become your battle. The havoc produced by diabetes does not by any means occur rapidly. On the contrary, it usually occurs slow enough for you not to notice. The longer you have diabetes, or the longer you are undiagnosed, or the longer you have diabetes that you are unable to control or choose not to control, the more danger you place on your limbs and your life. This is because amputation of part of the foot dramatically increases the likelihood of further amputation of your foot or your limb within the next 3-5 years, if not much sooner. The loss of one limb puts increased pressure on the other limb and this increased pressure inevitably results in breakdown of this foot and loss of this limb. The lifetime expectancy for a single amputee is five years. The lifetime expectancy for a double amputee is less than five years.
You do not think this could happen to you? We can give you countless examples of diabetic patients we treat who come in because they noticed drainage on their socks and never felt the wound to begin with; those who tell us stories of a small blister they could not get healed to find they now have a large wound that neither their body nor the miracles of medicine can heal. This could be you.
We ask you again, are you experiencing numbness and/or burning and/or tingling in your feet? Whether you have a history of diabetes in your family or not, we urge you to come in to have this evaluated. There are many times where these symptoms have resulted in a diagnosis of diabetes. At the very least, this discovery alone can save your limbs. At the very most, this discovery can save your life.