Diabetes is a frustrating, frightening disease that has a host of difficult side effects. One of the most challenging is diabetic foot pain. This condition is often associated with diabetic neuropathy, which is caused by nerve damage. People dealing with this problem can suffer excruciating pain just by doing something as simple as putting a bed sheet over their feet or putting on a shoe.
Here are some of the reasons why people with diabetes are so prone to severe foot pain, and some of the ways to deal with it.
Why it Happens
One of the main causes of foot pain associated with diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage. These nerves have become so damaged, in fact, that they have no control over the signals they send throughout the body.1 They’ll fire even when there’s nothing structurally wrong. But a lack of pain can be just as dangerous, and this is another symptom of neuropathy. Numbness in the feet can mean you don’t know when you’ve suffered a cut or a bug bite. This can quickly result in an infection that could potentially be fatal to someone who already has a compromised immune system.
Diabetes is also notorious for hampering blood circulation, which can also result in intense discomfort, even though your feet feel numb when you touch them. Blood provides the oxygen and nourishment the body needs. The arteries that carry this blood can become clogged with fatty deposits and calcium deposits in people with diabetes. As a result, the feet – as well as other oxygen- and nutrient-starved parts of the body – can become extremely painful.
What You Can Do About It
You might not be able to completely eliminate your diabetic foot pain, but there are ways that you can manage the problem and at least alleviate some of your discomfort.
· Blood sugar control –
One of the most important things you can do to try and reduce your diabetic foot pain is to be diligent about keeping your diabetes under control as best you can.2 The closer you can keep your blood sugar levels to the normal range, the lower the chances you will suffer nerve damage. Just don’t drop those levels too quickly, because that could actually worsen the problem. Talk to your doctor about ways to gradually reduce your levels, such as keeping a healthy weight, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and getting as much exercise as you can tolerate.
· Take your vitamins –
Vitamin D can make a significant impact on your diabetic foot pain. British researchers found that diabetic neuropathy sufferers with lower levels of the nutrient also experienced more pain. 3 B complex vitamins such as B12 and B6 can also play a crucial role in maintaining nerve health.
· Exercise –
Exercise helps the body in many ways. It not only helps control blood sugar levels, but it can possibly slow nerve damage in diabetics as well. It also releases endorphins that boost the mood and provide relief from stress. Make sure you get permission from your doctor, of course, before you start any sort of exercise program.
How Your Doctor Can Help
Self-management techniques can be effective, but there’s a very good chance that you’ll need medical help as well in order to get your diabetic foot pain under control. Here are some of the more common treatments for this problem.
· Medicine –
Most doctors prefer to start off conservatively when treating patients, and diabetic foot pain is no exception. Your physician may first recommend an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin, especially if your symptoms are mild. If this doesn’t solve the problem, the next step would be using a more powerful medication. Topical agents can help in some instances. Doctors will sometimes try a lidocaine patch in order to provide relief, or a cream that contains capsaicin. This is a natural, heat-producing cream that affects the nerves that send pain messages. Opiates are sometimes used in particularly severe cases, but these are powerful drugs that pose a risk of addiction.4
· Surgery –
Stimulators are sometimes implanted near the spine in order to interfere with pain sensations, but surgery is rarely recommended for diabetic foot pain. It is typically reserved for different types of pain such as those associated with a bulging or herniated disc in the back.
· Depression treatments –
When people have to deal with diabetic foot pain on a daily basis, it’s not surprising that they sometimes have to be treated for depression. After all, severe pain can rob you of your quality of life and make you feel not only helpless, but hopeless as well. Doctors will sometimes prescribe antidepressants in order to help sufferers cope.5
Getting Support from Others
No matter how difficult you find dealing with diabetic foot pain to be, always remember you’re not alone. There are not only people who love you who can help you remain mentally strong, there are others going through the exact same thing. Your doctor will probably be able to direct you toward local groups filled with people just like you. Many of these groups are run by professionals who know how to keep meetings positive. After all, you definitely don’t need to be surrounded by people who will bring you down – and you don’t want to bring them down.
If you have chronic diabetic foot pain, one of the most frustrating aspects is the fact you can’t do the things you used to do before developing your condition. While you need to keep active, you also need to make adjustments. You might have to walk 10 minutes a day rather than 30, or maybe try a low-impact exercise such as swimming instead.
By combining a healthy diet, a realistic exercise plan, and a positive attitude with expert medical help, you will be in the best position possible to reduce the diabetic foot pain that has held you back for far too long.
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