Diabetes: Protect Your Feet and Legs
If you have diabetes, you are more likely than people without this disorder to develop leg and foot problems. Diabetes can destroy nerves and cause you to have poor circulation. Left unchecked, these complications can lead to amputation. But there's a lot you can do to prevent that from happening.
How Diabetes Causes Limb Problems
First, it's important to understand what causes these diabetes complications. According to Marilyn Tan, MD, an endocrinologist and the clinic chief of the Stanford Endocrine Clinic in California, risk factors include poor circulation from atherosclerotic peripheral arterial disease, poor wound healing, and uncontrolled blood sugar increases, which increases the risk of infection. “Think of sugar as fuel for bacteria and fungus,” says Dr. Tan.
Researchers also know that high blood glucose levels can cause nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. The damage can occur in any part of your body, but it is most common in your arms and legs, with the lower extremities affected first. This type of nerve damage is known as peripheral neuropathy. Some people have no symptoms, while others experience numbness, tingling, burning, sharp pain, cramps, extreme sensitivity when touched, and a loss of coordination and balance.
When you have peripheral neuropathy, small sores can go unnoticed because of the numbness — you simply don’t feel them. Left untreated, these little problems can become major infections that invade the bones. What’s more, poor circulation from diabetes means any ulcers and infections are harder to heal. If an infection invades your Continue reading