Don't Let Diabetic Foot Pain Stop You

Diabetic foot pain is one of the first symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. If your feet are aching and sore, if your toes are hurting or numb, do not let it stop you in your tracks.

Sometimes you do need a doctor's help but there are also things you can do for painful feet.

Why Your Feet Hurt

The biggest cause for diabetic foot pain is peripheral neuropathy. Those big words stand for pain and numbness in your feet and hands.

Too much blood sugar (hyperglycemia) over time begins to cause damage to your arteries and nerves.

The tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen to your toes and fingertips stop doing their job. Nerves begin to die. Tingling, numbness and slow healing are the first signs you see.

A similar problem is sensory neuropathy that makes your skin extra sensitive to the lightest touch. This can happen even if your feet feel numb.

Burning, tingling, stabbing pains that come and go happen with this kind of diabetic foot pain. Sometimes just pulling a sheet over sensitive toes is too painful to bear.

Protect your feet from fungal infections.

What You Can Do About It

Since high blood sugar causes peripheral neuropathy, getting your blood sugar under control is a huge help in reversing and preventing diabetic foot pain.

Get a hemoglobin A1C done to see how your blood sugar levels have been for the past three months. Keep it under 7, and you will see the symptoms begin to improve.

Massaging your feet with lotion helps a lot. But do not put lotion between your toes because it leads to fungal infections.

Using a foot roller helps too. If you do not have a wooden foot roller, use a glass soda bottle or rolling pin.

Your diabetic shoes will have strong soles to help you walk without allowing your feet to lean in or out.

This is important because foot pain makes you want to walk on the sides of your feet, but that makes things worse.

Find some cushioned foot support inserts or buy shoes that have them, and wear your shoes all the time if you are not in bed or in the shower.

Give It Time To Work

These things will help. I know this because I have tried them. I had heel spurs, fallen arches and painful plantar fasciitis, and the diabetic foot pain is gone.

My feet are less numb, and I can sleep at night without pain relievers. I also avoided the heel spur surgery that my podiatrist recommended.

You will find that diabetic shoes, foot massage and foot exercises work if you keep using them.

A Great Foot Exercise

The exercise that helped my diabetic foot pain the most involved stretching the plantar fascia. The fascia is the tissue that covers the bottom of your feet under and around the muscles.

Lie in bed with your legs straight out and point your toes like a ballerina. Then curl your toes up toward your face, bending your ankle as far as you can. Repeat several times.

A wooden foot roller also stretches and stimulates the fascia. Rollers are available in home care and shoe catalogs like FootSmart. You can even use a glass soda bottle or rolling pin.

There are many other simple stretches your podiatrist can show you.

Swimming also helps your feet (real swimming, not just floating around). Kicking helps poor circulation and improves muscle strength.

There are lots of good aerobic exercises we can do in the water, and water takes the pressure off of sensitive feet. Any exercise that uses your leg muscles will help stimulate the nerves and reduce pain.

Diabetic Foot Pain From Nerve Damage

Another reason for diabetic foot pain is motor neuropathy. It causes nerve damage that makes muscles weak and achy in your thighs, shins and feet.

That will lead to limping and walking wrong, which will cause callouses and blisters. The answer for that is to wear cushioned supports and good diabetic shoes.

Do whatever it takes to be able to keep exercising. Use the foot exercises and massage.

And use your foot roller to ease plantar fasciitis. Most of all, keep your blood sugar under good control.

What About Dry, Cracked Skin?

Diabetic foot pain from skin that is dry and cracked is often caused by autonomic neuropathy. This kind of diabetic problem involves systems we have no control over, like digestion and sweating.

If your sweat glands don't work properly, skin dries and cracks, toenails thicken and dry up. Then bacterial infections and fungus follow.

Getting blood sugar levels down will help, but meanwhile you need to treat the symptoms. Dry feet need a good lotion every day, and even toenails need moisturizers.

Every Day Inspection Saves Diabetic Feet

To treat and avoid diabetic foot pain you need to inspect your feet every day with your eyes and fingers. Watch for redness, swelling. blisters and sores. Get ingrown toenails taken care of because they can get infected.

Surgeons who perform diabetic amputations on diabetic feet tell us that there is an 80% reduction in amputations if diabetics inspect their feet every day.

The American Diabetic Association has some good advice for your feet.

  • Do keep your skin warm and dry, and moisturize every day.
  • Don't use alpha-hydroxy acid moisturizers. They take off the top layer of skin, not good for diabetics.
  • Don't use harsh antiseptics on your feet.
  • Don't use antibiotic cream without talking to a doctor first (I don't know why - maybe to discourage self diagnosis).
  • Don't use over the counter corn and callus removers. They are caustic.
  • Don't bathe your feet in hot water. It leads to more dryness of your skin. Use warm water.

Do You Have Diabetic Foot Pain? Don't Let It Defeat You

Diabetics are at risk for depression because of chronic pain. There is not much that's harder to live with, and pain that makes you unable to walk is one of the worst, I think.

At night I would dream about walking anywhere I wanted, as fast as I wanted, and I would wake up and wonder if those days were really gone. I have hope now because much of the diabetic foot pain is gone.

But I've also learned not to take my feet for granted. I hope you won't either.

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