How Can Diabetes Affect My Feet
Over time, diabetes may cause nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy, that can cause tingling and pain, and can make you lose feeling in your feet. When you lose feeling in your feet, you may not feel a pebble inside your sock or a blister on your foot, which can lead to cuts and sores. Cuts and sores can become infected.
Diabetes also can lower the amount of blood flow in your feet. Not having enough blood flowing to your legs and feet can make it hard for a sore or an infection to heal. Sometimes, a bad infection never heals. The infection might lead to gangrene.
Gangrene and foot ulcers that do not get better with treatment can lead to an amputation of your toe, foot, or part of your leg.A surgeon may perform an amputation to prevent a bad infection from spreading to the rest of your body, and to save your life. Good foot care is very important to prevent serious infections and gangrene.
Although rare, nerve damage from diabetes can lead to changes in the shape of your feet, such as Charcots foot. Charcots foot may start with redness, warmth, and swelling. Later, bones in your feet and toes can shift or break, which can cause your feet to have an odd shape, such as a rocker bottom.
Its Been Longer Than Four Weeks
If wounds dont heal within a month, they are considered chronic wounds. While its possible for chronic wounds to heal on their own, its best to get a doctors help to identify why the wound isnt healing and provide treatment.
Our Wound Healing Center offers advanced treatments for severe and chronic diabetic wounds
Making The Right Dietary Choices
Choosing healthful fats: Nuts, avocados, oily fish, vegetable oils, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and poultry products contain fats that can benefit the bodys cells.
However, high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in the bloodstream can increase the risk of nerve damage, according to NIDDK. Manufactured or added fats, especially trans fats, can increase levels of triglycerides and the risk of having high cholesterol and obesity.
Avoiding excess sugars: Highly refined carbohydrates and sugars, including fructose sweeteners, can cause sharp, sudden spikes and dips in blood glucose. Avoiding these highs and lows is key to managing blood sugar and preventing further nerve damage.
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Caring For Your Hands And Feet
Diabetic nerve damage causes pain and can also affect your ability to feel pain, so its important to maintain your foot health.
To take better care of your feet, check your feet every day for cuts, sores, swelling, and other problems, even if you dont feel any pain there. They can get infected, and untreated infections can lead to serious complications, including amputation.
Wash your feet daily with warm water, and dry them completely afterward. Then apply a lotion to keep them moisturized. Avoid getting lotion in between your toes.
Wear comfortable, flexible shoes that give your feet room to move. Break in new shoes slowly so that they dont hurt your feet. Ask your doctor about customized shoes if regular shoes dont fit well.
Always cover your feet with shoes, slippers, or thick socks to cushion them and prevent injuries.
What Causes Diabetic Stiff Hand Syndrome
Multiple factors are thought to be related to the underlying cause of diabetic stiff hand syndrome.
Peterson et al report factors that can enhance development include when glycosylation the process of sugar molecules attaching to protein molecules is increased and causes additional collagen in the skin.
Harry Belcher MS, FRCS also writes that changes to the composition of collagen which lead to abnormal accumulation of proteins in body tissue can make hands stiffer.
Diabetic microangiopathy and diabetic neuropathy are also considered to be among the contributing factors of diabetic stiff hand syndrome.
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What Can I Do To Keep My Feet Healthy
Work with your health care team to make a diabetes self-care plan, which is an action plan for how you will manage your diabetes. Your plan should include foot care. A foot doctor, also called a podiatrist, and other specialists may be part of your health care team.
Include these steps in your foot care plan:
Use A Finer Gauge Needle
In the world of needles, the larger the gauge means the smaller the needle. Most lancing devices use a needle gauge of 28. Some lancing devices use finer gauge needles, such as the OneTouch Delica , or the Accu-Check Multiclix . The Multiclix has the added advantage of using a drum of lancets, so that one just has to twist the lancing device to change to a fresh needle.
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Keep The Blood Flowing To Your Feet
Try the following tips to improve blood flow to your feet:
- Put your feet up when you are sitting.
- Wiggle your toes for a few minutes throughout the day. Move your ankles up and down and in and out to help blood flow in your feet and legs.
- Do not wear tight socks or elastic stockings. Do not try to hold up loose socks with rubber bands.
- Be more physically active. Choose activities that are easy on your feet, such as walking, dancing, yoga or stretching, swimming, or bike riding.
Smoking can lower the amount of blood flow to your feet. If you smoke, ask for help to stop. You can get help by calling the national quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW or 1-800-784-8669. For tips on quitting, go to SmokeFree.gov.
Why Is Diabetic Neuropathy So Painful
The nerves carry chemical messages to and from the brain about what we can feel. When the nerves are damaged these messages cannot be sent properly which leads to a change in sensation or feeling. This can lead to feelings of numbness, tingling, burning, discomfort or shooting pains. Sometimes these sensations can be worse at night. We are not sure exactly why this is, but could be to do with cooler temperatures in the evening, stress at the end of a long day and fewer distractions in the evening meaning you notice the pain more. Living with any type of long-term pain , can be very distressing and have a negative impact on your mental health and general wellbeing. If you are experiencing regular or frequent pain which you are struggling to cope with you should contact your GP for advice and support. You can also contact our helpline or reach out on our forum.
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What Causes Trigger Finger
The exact cause of trigger finger is still unclear. However, there are certain things that increase your risk of developing the condition.
Research has determined that most cases of trigger finger developing between the ages of 40 to 60 years old. Women are more likely to develop trigger finger than men.
You have an increased risk of developing trigger finger if you have
- a history of diabetes
- a history of elevated blood glucose levels
- a history of carpal tunnel syndrome
- a history of rheumatoid arthritis
- a previous incidence of trigger finger in another digit
In fact, patients with type 1 diabetes or carpal tunnel syndrome are twice as likely to develop trigger finger compared to the general population, according to a 2012 study from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA.
The 2012 study from Massachusetts General hospital also reported that 22 percent of patients who had been treated for trigger finger developed the condition in another digit within 2 years.
A 2010 study from Kakegawa City General Hospital, Kakegawa, Japan, concluded an even higher risk of trigger finger in the diabetes population, stating this population is 4 times more likely to develop trigger finger compared to the non-diabetic population.
This Japanese study also found that the risk of developing trigger finger was significantly higher in insulin-dependent patients.
Common Factors That Can Affect Finger Stick Blood Sugar Tests
When testing blood sugar levels, there are different factors that can affect the accuracy of a finger stick test including:
- Temperature, humidity, and elevation
- Testing site location, such as fingertip vs. forearm
- Expired or damaged test strips
Some factors are related to the finger stick process and have simple solutions to improve the accuracy of your results. Consider these factors the next time you test:
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Darker Area Of Skin That Feels Like Velvet
A dark patch of velvety skin on the back of your neck, armpit, groin, or elsewhere could mean that you have too much insulin in your blood. This is often a sign of prediabetes.The medical name for this skin condition is acanthosis nigricans.
Often causing darker skin in the creases of the neck, AN may be the first sign that someone has diabetes.
- Get tested for diabetes
How To Monitor Diabetes At Home
This article will discuss how to monitor type 2 diabetes at home, the importance of regular blood sugar checks, and more.
vgajic / Getty Images
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S To Perform A Finger Stick Blood Sugar Test
The most common way for people with diabetes to check their blood sugar is with a personal blood glucose meter. In order to get started, gather all the supplies needed to check your blood sugar, including:
- Blood glucose meter
- Lancing device and lancet
- Batteries for the blood glucose meter
Whether youre new to or skilled at monitoring your blood sugar, it can be helpful to walk through key steps to brush up on best practices. You may find even one small adjustment you can make that will be a game-changer to your testing experience.
Patients Share: My Earliest Symptoms
We reached out to our social media community, and heard back from a number of people whove experienced this condition.
Risa,age 55, living with type 1 diabetes for 35 years, trigger finger developed at age 53: One morning I woke up and my finger was stuck in a bent position. I had to physically unbend. This started happening almost daily.
Anita, age 36, T1D for 25 years, trigger finger developed at age 30: My finger knuckles stiffened and it started with the middle finger and happened mostly in the morning. When I tried to bend my fingers, all the fingers bent together except the middle finger. It would bend later in the day but with a snap sound. Sometimes I need to put my fingers underneath a pillow so they dont curl and stiffen while Im sleeping, because its hard to release the stiffness in the morning. When the fingers stiffen, sometimes I am unable to do anything as simple as opening a door or lifting a spoon. Daily activities can be hard because my fingers cant be used.
Treat it early, emphasizes Polatsch, whos seen far too many patients endure the discomfort and inconveniences of trigger fingers for years or decades before seeking treatment.
Typical trigger finger treatment options include:
- Regular physical therapy to stretch and exercise the affected finger or thumb.
- Wearing a splint on the affected finger or thumb to essentially keep it straightened for a prolonged period of time, along with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs.
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To Fix Diabetic Nerve Damage Blood Vessels And Support Cells May Be The Real Targets Of Treatment Hopkins Study Suggests
Blood vessels and supporting cells appear to be pivotal partners in repairing nerves ravaged by diabetic neuropathy, and nurturing their partnership with nerve cells might make the difference between success and failure in experimental efforts to regrow damaged nerves, Johns Hopkins researchers report in a new study.
About 20 percent of diabetics experience neuropathy, a painful tingling, burning or numbness in the hands and feet that reflects damage to nerves and sometimes leads to infections and amputation of the toes, fingers, hands and feet over time. Current treatments for diabetic neuropathy focus on relieving symptoms, but dont address the root cause by repairing nerve damage. Previous research has shown that nerve cells long extensions, known as axons, regenerate slowly in diabetics, scuttling various experiments to regrow healthy nerves, explains study leader Michael Polydefkis, M.D., M.H.S., associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Our results suggest that regenerative abnormalities associated with diabetes are widespread, Polydefkis says. Theyre not just affecting nervestheyre also affecting blood vessel growth and Schwann cell proliferation.
Additionally, he says, the findings could explain why blood vessel-related problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, often accompany diabetes. Slowed regeneration of damaged blood vessels could contribute to these conditions as well, he explains.
For more information:
Wash Your Feet Every Day
Wash your feet with soap in warm, not hot, water. Test the water to make sure it is not too hot. You can use a thermometer or your elbow to test the warmth of the water. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get too dry.
After washing and drying your feet, put talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes. Skin between the toes tends to stay moist. Powder will keep the skin dry to help prevent an infection.
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How To Treat Ulcers
If you do get an ulcer or notice a change in your skin that youâre not sure about, tell your doctor right away. Youâll likely get a procedure called debridement, which removes unhealthy tissue from the wound to spur healing.
Your doctor will also work with you to try to keep your sore or ulcer from getting infected and becoming bigger. Some of the steps they may recommend include:
Clean your ulcer daily. Use soap and water, unless your doctor recommends another cleanser. Donât use hydrogen peroxide or soak your wound in a bath or whirlpool, because this could reduce healing and may boost your odds of infection.
Keep your ulcer bandaged or covered with a wound dressing. While you may have heard that itâs important to âair outâ wounds, experts now know that not covering a wound actually increases the odds of infection and slows healing.
Keep pressure off your ulcer, especially if itâs on your foot. This may mean you need to use crutches, special footwear, a brace, or other devices. Reducing pressure and irritation helps ulcers heal faster.
Use the topical medications your doctor recommends. These may be saline, growth factors, and/or skin substitutes.
Keep your blood sugar under control. In addition to reducing your risk of ulcers, tight blood sugar control helps your body heal existing ulcers.
Why Do People With Diabetes Use Finger Stick Tests
For people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, blood sugar levels are self-monitored with the use of a personal blood glucose meter and blood glucose test strips. Taking a finger stick test at home or on the go is a quick, cost-effective way to check blood sugar levels throughout the day and make any necessary treatment decisions, like dosing insulin.
Finger stick tests may also be performed by a healthcare professional for assisted monitoring of blood sugar. This involves drawing a drop of blood from the fingertip with a single-use, auto-disabling finger stick device for testing in a clinical care setting. The finger stick device in these settings may have a larger lancet size, which can sometimes cause slightly more pain compared to a finer lancet used when testing at home.
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Get The Best Monitor For You
Different blood glucose monitor systems require different depths, and some let you do blood sugar testing in different locations on your body. Consider making a switch if your current one is just too uncomfortable for regular diabetes management. Also make sure you know how to use your system properly. Verastigui suggests sticking with brand names and avoiding too-good-to-be-true sales pitches.
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Causes Of Diabetic Neuropathy
Neuropathy is one of the long-termcomplicationsof diabetes. Over time, highblood glucose levelscan damage the small blood vessels that supply the nerves in your body. This stops essential nutrients reaching the nerves. As a result, the nerve fibres can become damaged, and they may disappear.This can cause problems in many different parts of your body, depending on the type of nerve affected.
Rotate Testing Site Regularly
Many folks stick to a few favorite fingers to test. This might seem convenient but it ends up as a painful choice because it lessens the time a testing site has to heal. Testing on the same fingers over and over increases the risk for infection, keeps them inflamed, and increases callus formation and scar tissue. Test on a different finger every day, and use all 10 fingers.
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