It is not known exactly how blood glucose affects
diabetic neuropathy. Keeping tight control of your
blood sugar levels may keep you from getting diabetic neuropathy. Tight blood
sugar control means a level of hemoglobin A1c within a target range. By
controlling your A1c levels, which show what your blood sugar levels are over
a period of time, you can lower your chances of getting neuropathy. This will
lower your risk of having foot problems. Even with tight control of your HbA1c
levels, it is still possible that you will get neuropathy. But it is much less
Circulatory problems in your legs and a suppressed immune
system are also common in diabetes and can severely impair your ability to
heal. Neuropathy may initially dull your sensation of pain, preventing you from
noticing a potentially dangerous injury. Your body's inability to heal quickly
will allow this injury to evolve, unless you notice it and seek medical
To prevent foot problems due to infection
when you have diabetic neuropathy, you should examine your feet carefully every
day to detect any injuries. If you can't see well enough to do this, ask
someone to do it for you. By treating your injuries and preventing them from
becoming more serious, you may be able to avoid more serious problems,
If you have neuropathy, your feet are at
risk for problems that arise from poor muscular control. If your nerves are no
longer able to carry signals that indicate the appropriate motion of your feet
and lower legs while you walk, your body may compensate by forcing your feet to
adopt unnatural positions while you move. Changing the way you walk increases
your risk of getting foot ulcers and deformities. Your feet may become deformed
and misshapen if you walk abnormally for an extended period of time. In fact,
approximately half of all people with diabetes have a
hammer toe or claw toe deformity or a
Charcot foot deformity, caused by an abnormal walk.
See a picture of
Charcot foot .
To reduce the risk of getting a deformity or other
complications with your feet, people who have poor sensation in the extremities
(peripheral neuropathy) or vascular disease should visit a podiatrist or
orthopedic surgeon periodically. This doctor will be able to detect any changes
in your feet that indicate a change in the way you walk. If an abnormal walk is
detected early, your podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon may be able to equip you
with appropriate shoes or inserts that will compensate for the changes in your
muscle movement. By taking the pressure off parts of your foot that were not
designed to bear such weight, your doctor will be able to minimize your risk of
both deformity and injury.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
May 13, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 13, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this
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