Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage that affects the arms, hands, legs and feet. This condition differs from peripheral arterial disease in which poor circulation affects the blood vessels, not the nerves.
Three distinct nerve groups may be affected by diabetic neuropathy:
Infections and ulcers: An ulcer is a skin sore that can move through the layers of the skin down to the bone. Poor circulation and neuropathy in the feet can cause cuts or blisters to develop in the feet. These sores often turn into ulcers that become infected and can result in loss of your foot, your leg or your life.
Corns and calluses: In the case of neuropathy, you cannot sense your shoes applying pressure and causing corns or calluses. Corns and calluses must be trimmed professionally to prevent them from developing into ulcers.
Dry and cracked skin: Neuropathy and poor blood flow are two causes of dry skin. Although this seems like a minor problem, dry skin may result in cracks that can turn into sores and become infected.
Nail disorders: Fungal infections and ingrown toenails -- which grow into the skin on the sides on the sides of the nail -- may not be noticed in patients with neuropathy. These disorders can lead to infection if left untreated.
Hammertoes and bunions: Damaged nerves affect the muscles by causing weakness and loss of tone in the feet. Conditions such as hammertoes and bunions can develop and cause ulcers if not properly treated.
Charcot foot: A complex foot deformity, charcot foot is an undetected fracture that eventually breaks down the soft tissue of the foot. Patients who have neuropathy do not feel the pain of the broken bone and continue normal activities, causing further destruction. Charcot foot is a serious complication that requires surgery, and in some cases, amputation.
Poor circulation: Often in patients with diabetes, there is a narrowing in the blood vessels beneath the knee that restrict blood flow. Poor circulation slows wound healing and can cause tissue death.
Reasons to See Dr. Radovic
Prevent amputation by visiting Dr. Radovic for wound healing. New surgical techniques such as joint reconstruction and wound healing technologies are available for the feet and legs. Visiting Dr. Radovic regularly and seeking immediate treatment when a symptom appears can keep minor problems from worsening. Dr. Radovic and your other healthcare providers work as team to prevent and treat diabetic complications.
Patients can drastically reduce diabetic complications by proactively following these guidelines. Contact Dr. Radovic if any of these problems are apparent:
Inspect your feet every day for skin or nail problems. Be aware of cuts, scrapes. redness, drainage, swelling, foul odor, rash, changes in skin color, injuries or balding of the toes. You should also inspect for nail problems including deformation, lifting, discoloration, thickening or insufficient growth.
Leg pain could indicate a blocked artery and should be treated immediately. This pain often occurs at night or after brief activity.
Seek proper nail care if you are beginning to lose feeling in your feet, if you notice nail problems or if your nails are hardening.
"Bathroom surgery" is often ineffective. Have your corns and calluses professionally trimmed and never use over-the-counter medication pads.
Always ensure that floors are clear of needles, insulin syringes and other sharp objects.
Keep your feet protected by wearing shoes indoors and outdoors.
Check your shoes and socks regularly. Clean the insides of your shoes and make sure to clear your socks of folds and creases.
See Dr. Radovic to have your circulation and sense of feeling tested.
Preventative care and immediate treatment of infection and complications is sometimes not enough to avoid amputation. In certain cases, amputation is the only solution for removing infected tissue, saving a limb or even saving a life.