Foot pain can certainly be caused by any number of reasons. However, foot pain resulting from diabetes is both painful and very common for those living with diabetes.
Diabetes and foot pain is generally defined by four different types.
A nerve problem (where the nerves themselves are affected by the disease) called peripheral neuropathy is the most common source of foot pain tied to diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy comes in the form of sensory, motor, and autonomic neuropathy.
Sensory neuropathy is the most common and is defined by symptoms where the amount of pain is much greater than the source that is causing the pain. As an example, just touching, or lightly pulling on your socks triggers a painful reaction. Also, with sensory neuropathy you may experience some numbness along with tingling, burning, or even stabbing type pain symptoms.
Because blood sugar can be a player in this type of pain, check your blood sugar levels for the past several weeks to see if perhaps there is an upward trend toward high levels.
Relief is of the utmost importance in these cases and can come from various applications. Massaging your feet or using a foot roller can sometimes drop the level of pain. Anything you can do from a shoe perspective such as cushioned supports and inserts can assist as well. Anything to help mitigate the pressure and pounding of daily activities on the foot and/or any rubbing or chaffing is beneficial. There are also prescription drugs that your doctor can recommend that will often times work.
When the nerves to the muscles become affected by diabetes (motor neuropathy), your muscles will begin to feel weak and achy. Although the smaller muscles of the feet aren’t usually the first to be affected, your balance can eventually become affected which may cause alignment problems and/or rubbing on the feet which ultimately results in pain. Support, exercise, stretching, and massage are your best weapon against motor neuropathy. Keeping your muscles healthy and flexible is a key element in relieving this type of foot pain.
Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that we don’t consciously control, hence the ‘auto’ of autonomic. With this condition existing your sweating triggers are altered and as such you may suffer from dry or cracked skin. For your feet this may result in a build up of foot calluses, thickened nails and such that lead to foot pain. The daily use of conditioning agents formulated specifically for diabetes can aid or prevent this problem.
With diabetic people proper circulation is a primary concern. Circulation problems in the feet can cause severe pain. Addressing circulation problems should always be done in conjunction with your medical doctor. Various approaches may include an exercise program, physical therapy, medication, or even surgical procedures, but again, consult with your physician before considering any strategy that involves addressing a circulation issue.
With diabetic people muscle and joint pain is not uncommon. If tendons and joints begin to stiffen coupled with imbalances associated with peripheral neuropathy and walking alignment occurs, the foot and the joints become painful. In fact, if the walking misalignments continue, this can lead to other foot disorders such as corns, bunions, and hammertoe.
People living with diabetes are more susceptible to infections within their body because of the changes that have taken place in their body. If a bacterial infection attacks the foot, the foot can become red, experience swelling, feel warm, and be painful. Keeping the immune system as healthy as possible by controlling your blood sugar, proper nutrition, and exercise, should be a top priority in your defense against infections.
If you are afflicted with diabetes, in addition to being mindful of the above information, work closely with your primary care physician to ensure that you receive proper information and care for your personal situation.