A consistently elevated blood sugar can lead to diabetic neuropathy where in the connection between the blood vessels and the nerves is lost, which leads to the damaging of nerves innervating the feet. This causes poor blood circulation, mostly associated with a burning sensation, a tingling in the feet and a foot pain that can sometimes become so severe that it can form foot ulcers eventually leading to lower leg amputations.
Hence diabetic patients must be extremely cautious in recognizing foot deformities at an early stage and should get an immediate treatment done. By following the steps mentioned below, one can take an initiative to prevent foot problems, even before they affect the other parts of the leg.
Tips to Prevent Diabetic Foot Pain
Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
Frequently getting blood sugar levels checked, has been found to be very effective in keeping the pain levels manageable. One must also be aware of the fact that a burning sensation and a tingling in the feet can also result from low levels of thyroid hormone which clearly implies that one should also consider getting a thyroid examination done when they experience foot pain.
Diet low in Carbohydrates
Diet plays a huge role in normalizing blood sugar levels and so diabetic patients ought to keep an eye on their food intake since almost everything that we ingest is converted to sugar or glucose that the body utilizes as an energy source.
In order to make sure that the blood sugar levels do not go high, one can adapt ways of increasing the metabolism of glucose in the body by increasing the fiber content of the food. Another way is to add supplements like inositol, a B complex vitamin to your diet, mostly found in foods like wheat grains, citrus fruits etc., which has been found to reduce diabetic neuropathy related pain levels by a study conducted at the University of Alabama.
Physical activity works in the same manner as insulin does, by aiding in the movement of glucose into the cells from the bloodstream to be utilized as a source of energy. Aerobics, cardiovascular training or walking can help to improve blood circulation throughout the body, reducing foot pain.
Swimming and bicycle riding are exercises that place the least amount of stress on the feet and at the same time help in speeding up blood flow to the feet. The most effective way of reducing foot pain is to lower blood sugar levels by exercising for at least 30 minutes for 5-7days a week especially by including foot exercises in the daily regime to allow fresh blood to reach the feet. However, people with sores should not exercise and stay off their feet till complete healing occurs.
Ways to Relief Pain
One way is to use the conventional over-the-counter analgesics or pain killers (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen etc., as the first step to reduce foot pain caused by diabetic neuropathy.
When the pain gets severe, anticonvulsant drugs that have the ability of calming and soothing the nerves can be taken, only after consulting a medical practitioner. Acupuncture is yet another effective method for fighting injuries and for healing foot pains since it releases energy along the pain pathways, deactivating the trigger points that gradually relieves the pain.
Constant Monitoring for Foot Injuries
Learning how to examine the early signs and symptoms of diabetic foot problems and seeking the right treatment on time is the most effective preventive measure to avoid leg amputations. The two factors that make this step crucial are:
Loss of Sensation in the Feet
Certain parts of the feet become numb due to the loss of sensation caused by the damage to the nerves innervating that area. This can cause a lot of foot deformities or injuries like sores or blisters to go unnoticed which after a period of time can cause foot ulcers, if left untreated.
Difficulty in Treating Foot Injuries
The infection cannot be treated easily either, because the antibiotics taken cannot reach the site of the infection due to poor blood circulation. Hence it can soon spread to the bone making it necessary to amputate the foot or the lower leg. It has been estimated that half of such amputations can be prevented by staying vigilant and checking for such minor injuries that need to be treated promptly on time.
Wounds that take a long time to heal and foot injuries that occur without the knowledge of a diabetic patient are the two most important indications of diabetic neuropathy. Following nerve damage, a few muscles in the feet get affected too, thereby forcing the diabetic patient to put extra pressure on one side of the leg that can eventually change their body posture. Listed below are a few tips to treat foot pain at home:
1. Add table salt to warm water and soak your feet in it for about 30 minutes daily at the end of the day. Warm water helps to give the feet a soothing feeling unlike hot water which can dry the skin.
2. In order to improve blood circulation, use a rolling massage available at pharmacies to massage your feet for at least 10-15 minutes a day. Since the oil production and sweat secretion that normally lubricates the skin also gets impaired, it can cause the skin to become extremely dry, leading to the development of sores. This can be treated by using a foot lotion or oil to massage the feet on a daily basis.
3. Do not move around bare-foot since it can make you more vulnerable to pain while walking. Keep your feet, well protected by wearing medicated or cushioned shoes that are made using extra padding especially made for diabetic patients. Avoid wearing tight shoes, socks or clothes since they can restrict blood flow to your feet.
4. Keeping the foot elevated by using a footrest while watching T.V and constantly massaging the fingers can help to increase the blood flow. Also, one should avoid sitting with their legs crossed for a long time, since it slow down blood circulation.
Besides the above mentioned ways, one needs to avoid cigarette smoking since nicotine can constrict blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the feet. Nerve damage can be very unpredictable, which makes it mandatory for a diabetic patient to inform the doctor about any slight tingling, prickling or a painful sensation in the feet, to avoid a leg amputation.