Living well with my foot neuropathy
Over 10 years ago I began waking up in the middle of the night with searing pain in my feet. It was not every night and not always in the same place, but when it happened it hurt terribly. Almost like someone lit a match and put it out on the bottom of my foot. I was diagnosed with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. My doctor explained that it is a common complication in people with diabetes and that if I keep tight control of my blood glucose levels it may alleviate the pain. Keeping my blood glucose in control is a constant and never ending battle for me, especially when I did not want to pay much attention to my type 1 diabetes.
Years have passed and the pain I used to feel has morphed into constant tingling and numbness. It hurts in an entirely different way now, like there are bugs in my shoes and on my feet all the time. Because of the numbness and fear of losing my feet, I have had to adopt some new habits. Here is a list of 10 tips I would give anyone who is living with peripheral neuropathy to help avoid any major issues.
Staying one step ahead of my diabetic foot neuropathy
1. Check your feet every night. I am blessed to have a spouse that will inspect my feet each night when get ready for bed. If she can't do it then I grab my feet and look at them as best as I can. There are also some great mirrors made for checking your feet you can use.
2. See a podiatrist. As a person living with diabetes, I recommend seeing a podiatrist at the very least annually for an exam or whenever your doctor requests. I would also suggest going in whenever anything seems to have changed with your feet. If you cannot see a podiatrist then make sure your doctor always has a look at your feet at every appointment.
3. Watch your step. Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. When you have peripheral neuropathy you cannot trust the feeling in your feet, so always make it a point to watch where you are walking. A nail or tack could puncture a shoe and at the same time, your foot.
4. Clear a path. I always make sure there is nothing on the floor or in my way before I go to bed in case I get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. A stubbed toe can get infected quickly, so keeping the floor clear is an easy but important step.
5. Wear closed toe shoes. I do not wear sandals that expose my toes to any harm. I know many people do not feel strongly about this but for me there is no question. The less exposed your feet are the less you need to worry throughout the day.
6. Do not walk around barefoot. Being barefoot feels wonderful, but I don't think it's worth the risk. One day by the pool can be ruined if the cement is too hot and you cannot feel it. Water shoes or even closed toe sandals work well.
7. Trim your toenails carefully. A small cut is all that is needed for an infection to start. An ingrown toenail can also break the skin. Use an emery board to smooth them out when you are done trimming.
8. Buy shoes that fit. A callus or blister can easily become a sore. Make sure the shoes you purchase fit well and offer support.
9. Dry your feet well. Some mornings I am rushing to get out the door and to work on time. Still I always take the time to make sure my feet are completely dry before I put my socks on. Fungus loves to grow in moist places.
10. Exercise. The benefits of exercise are limitless. Better circulation is good for your feet since they are the furthest away from your heart. Staying active and avoiding tobacco are things you can do to improve circulation.
Having diabetic peripheral neuropathy does not mean you will lose your feet. The real enemy is infection. Hopefully the tips above can help you avoid infection and keep you and your feet happy and healthy for years to come.