Diabetics often suffer foot and leg pain as a result of complications that are associated with the diabetes. Because the legs are an extremity of the body, it is important for them to receive a constant flow of healthy blood in order to stay strong and healthy. Protect yourself from diabetic caused amputations.
However, because of many diabetes-related conditions, the legs do not get the proper attention that they need to stay healthy. Those complications include poor circulation, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and even slow-healing infections. Another reason feet and legs don’t get proper attention in time is the early stages of blocked blood flow damage are painless. Just as Type 2 diabetes, there is no feeling that anything bad is going on – but it is! But, as the years go by, blood flow is reduced starving and damaging the nerve tissue in the feet and legs, as well as other parts of the body.
Many diabetics have conditions that affect the positive flow of blood throughout the body. When blood flow through the arteries in the feet and legs becomes blocked or limited, the feet and legs can get cramps, numbness, or loss of functionality. Often, cramps will form during exercise, such as walking or jogging. One should use diabetic support hose while exercising.
However, as the problem progresses, the feet may start to feel painful even when the body is at rest. Foot pain in such a case is usually the result of blocked blood flow to the feet, which can lead to a host of serious complications.
There are a variety of conditions that can impact leg pain that is associated with diabetes. Among those risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of physical activity
- Family history of heart disease
Symptoms of Leg Problems
- Decreased hair growth on the legs and feet
- Discoloration of the leg or footCompression Socks & Stockings
- Lack of pulse in the leg or foot
- Cold feet or legs
- Numbness, cramping, tingling, or pain
- Non-healing wounds
- Shrinking calf muscles
- Thickened toenails
Foot Care with Diabetes shoes
People with neuropathy need to take special care of their feet. The nerves to the feet are the longest in the body and are the ones most often affected by neuropathy. Loss of sensation in the feet means that sores or injuries may not be noticed and may become ulcerated or infected. Poor blood flow also increase the risk of foot ulcers and diabetes foot problems.
More than half of all lower-limb amputations in the United States occur in people with diabetes – 86,000 amputations per year. Doctors estimate that nearly half of the amputations caused by neuropathy, diabetes foot pain and poor circulation could have been prevented by careful foot care.
Follow these steps to take care of your feet:
- Clean your feet daily, using warm, not hot water and a mild soap. Avoid soaking your feet. Dry them with a soft towel and dry carefully between your toes.
- Inspect your feet and toes every day for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, calluses, or other problems. Use a mirror, laying a mirror on the floor works well or gets help from someone else if you cannot see the bottoms of your feet. Notify your health care provider of any problems.
- Moisturize your feet with lotion, but avoid getting the lotion between your toes.
- After a bath or shower, file corns and calluses gently with a pumice stone.
- Cut your toenails weekly to the shape of your toes and file the edges with an emery board.
- Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injuries. Prevent skin irritation by wearing thick, soft, seamless diabetic socks.
- Wear shoes that fit well and allow your toes to move. Break in new shoes gradually by first wearing them for only an hour at a time.
- Inspect your diabetic shoes carefully and feel the insides with your hand to make sure they have no tears, sharp edges, or objects in them that might injure your feet.
- If you need help taking care of your feet, make an appointment to see a foot doctor, also called a podiatrist.
For additional information about foot care, contact the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-860-8747. See the publication Prevent diabetes problems: Keep your feet and skin healthy at http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/complications_feet. Materials are also available from the National Diabetes Education Program; including the fact sheet Take Care of Your Feet for a Lifetime at http://www.ndep.nih.gov/campaigns/Feet/Feet_overview.htm.
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