Improving Blood Flow to the Feet
The Power of Relaxation and Biofeedback
Many people with diabetes experience discomfort in their legs and feet, with symptoms such as cramping, numbness, tingling, and pain. The culprits may be poor circulation, nerve damage, or both, and the underlying causes are referred to as peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and peripheral neuropathy. While both appear to be triggered by high blood glucose levels and some of their symptoms overlap, they are two distinct conditions.
In the most common form of PAD, arteries in the legs (and sometimes arms) narrow and harden as a result of fatty plaque deposits, leading to decreased blood flow in the legs and feet. This disorder affects 8–12 million Americans and is far more common in people with diabetes than in the rest of the population: About one-third of people with diabetes over the age of 50 have PAD, although many of them are undiagnosed. Symptoms of PAD include intermittent claudication (cramping leg pain that develops while walking and stops with rest); numbness, coldness, or tingling of the legs and feet; and slow healing of cuts and sores on the affected extremities.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes in which nerves in the feet and legs (and sometimes hands and arms) are damaged, resulting in pain and/or loss of sensation. While the exact mechanism by which neuropathy develops is not known, the condition usually develops after years of exposure to high blood glucose levels. Weakened nerve fibers may give off false sensations in the extremities, often experienced as pain or burning; cramps and Continue reading