Diabetic Nerve Pain: 10 Foot Care Tips to Protect Yourself
6. Stay soft, but dry.
Your skin may be dry and cracked because of high glucose levels, and cracked skin means it's easier for bacteria to get under your skin and harder for infections to heal. Use a small amount of skin lotion daily, but be sure your feet feel dry, not damp or sticky, afterward. Try not to get the lotion in between your toes.
Keep your toenails trimmed and filed smooth to avoid ingrown toenails. You may find it easier to trim your nails after using lotion, when your cuticles are softer.
Use a pumice stone after showering or bathing to softly file corns or calluses.
7. Try non-impact exercise.
Swimming, cycling, yoga, and tai chi are increasingly popular ways to exercise -- with minimal impact on your feet. Talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
8. Fix bunions, corns, and hammertoes.
If your big toe slants sharply in toward your other toes, with a big bump on the knuckle of your big toe, you've got a classic bunion. Corns are spots of thick, rough skin, where the tissue builds up on toes constantly barraged by too much rubbing or pressure. A buckled-under toe, called a hammertoe, can result from muscle weakness caused by diabetic nerve damage. All of these make it hard to fit shoes comfortably.
A good podiatrist can help you fix these problems and take better care of your feet.
9. Consider fitted orthotics.
A podiatrist can also fit you with shoe inserts called orthotics to support your feet if your have diabetic nerve pain or the muscles have become weak from nerve damage. If pain or weakness is so severe that it's too painful or even impossible to walk, a foot brace or orthopedic shoes might help. A podiatrist is your best source for these devices.
10. Control your blood sugar.
The best prevention for nerve pain, ultimately, is to manage your diabetes well. In fact, a 2006 study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases showed that strict blood glucose control with intensive insulin therapy lowered the chances in people with type I (insulin requiring) diabetes of having symptoms of peripheral neuropathy -- tingling, burning, and pain -- by 64%. These results have also been shown to hold true in type II diabetes, too.
The two most important determinants of whether you get diabetic neuropathy are how many years you have had diabetes and how well you control your blood sugar. Other factors, including controlling blood pressure and blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) and not smoking are also important to prevent diabetic neuropathy.
Controlling your blood glucose also helps reduce the symptoms of diabetic nerve pain. So the good news is that controlling your glucose levels with diet, exercise, and if needed, medications can not only help prevent diabetic peripheral neuropathy, but they can also help ease its effects.